Totally Renewable Indigo North

Totally Renewable Indigo North (TRIN) is a community group based in VIC. Local community members are involved in setting up and running renewable energy projects to benefit the whole community and the planet.


About Totally Renewable Indigo North. What is Community Energy (CE)? There is a variety of different definitions. In our case, it means local community members are involved in setting up and running renewable energy projects to benefit the whole community and the planet. CE projects can include infrastructure creation for energy generation (e.g. solar panels), storage (e.g. a community battery) or distribution (e.g. a microgrid). Other renewable energy projects are those relating to lowering energy consumption, like retrofitting or draught-proofing homes or replacing energy-inefficient appliances with efficient ones through bulk buy offers (e.g. exchanging electric hot heaters with hot water pumps).

Community ownership of that infrastructure can vary from having a private, community (e.g. cooperative, community enterprise, housing associations) or shared ownership. But community ownership is not limited to property rights. It also includes democratic structures and active involvement in decision-making processes and projects that generate benefits for the local community (e.g. those that return profits to the community or re-invest them in other community energy schemes). Community member involvement can differ too. Developers might fully plan and implement the project but pay community organisations a fixed amount (e.g. when setting up large solar farms). In this case, the community will just be consulted upfront. In joint ventures, commercial developers and communities are partners, sharing ownership and responsibility for carrying out the project. Equity sharing is another approach; community members buy shares in a project, thus carrying the financial risk while also benefitting from the profits.

CE projects provide a considerable range of benefits to the community. The first step towards their realisation though is that the project has to have what’s called ‘social license’: the project needs to be acceptable to the community. Social license enables, promotes and supports the project. It also leads to active community involvement, which creates community cohesion and builds ‘social capital’. Once a CE project has been successfully realised (e.g. a microgrid is fully functioning), the immediate benefits are technological ones. The microgrid participants have a secure flow of energy. Black- and brownouts will be eliminated. (And the National Grid will benefit too from this stability.) Microgrid-based communal environments (CE hubs) will in future act like energy islands in which communities will generate, store and internally trade energy. Currently, fully enabling technology is still being developed but is slowly becoming available.

The next tier of benefits is an economic one. Community-owned CE hubs will eliminate corporate profit-taking. Energy in the hub will become much cheaper, and at least part of the energy user and corporate profit savings will stay in the community. Other income streams might open: if the project is attractive, it will attract tourism and investment dollars (happening in Yackandandah already). If the community is savvy, it will invest this new capital in community infrastructure and community wellbeing. It is important to note technology alone won’t bring about these changes. An active, caring, innovative and regenerative community spirit needs to drive technological implementations. Last but not least, renewable CE projects contribute to the lowering of carbon emissions. Together with millions of other worldwide CO2 reducing projects, they will have a mitigating influence on climate change and, therefore, the life of future generations (e.g. our children and grandchildren). The Indigo Shire has taken the first small steps to set a Zero Net emissions target together and develop a plan of achieving it. Our community rallying to make TRIN a successful enterprise can become part of that journey.

Note: This descriptive text was copied from the Group's website. Some website links may no longer be active.

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