On Tuesday evening last week 90 members of the Benalla community attended a forum to discuss a renewable energy future for Benalla.
The forum, organised by Benalla Sustainable Future Group and Benalla Rural City Council, was the first step in a project to develop a future clean energy plan for Benalla.
The forum was opened by Member for Euroa Steph Ryan who spoke about the significance of such an event.
Those attending the forum heard that community renewable energy projects strengthen local economies by developing renewable energy industries, providing jobs and training and keeping the financial benefits within the local community.
Such projects also educate people about renewable energy and involve them in creating a sustainable low-carbon future.
Taryn Lane from Hepburn Wind spoke about a number of community energy projects that had been established around Australia and the different funding models that had been used.
Gavin Ashley from Moreland Energy Foundation explained a four-stage model for a community such as Benalla to follow to become a zero net energy community.
Matthew Charles-Jones from Totally Renewable Yackandandah explained how that community was aiming to become 100 per cent renewable by 2022.
Following presentations by the guest speakers, attendees were asked to form small groups to discuss what they saw as the key opportunities and challenges of exploring a renewable energy project for Benalla and to identify any options or key factors that should be considered in a future energy plan.
Groups recorded their ideas, which will be collated and used as the basis for planning further activities.
A number of people volunteered to form a working party to advance this project.
— John Lloyd, Benalla Sustainable Future Group