It is no secret that energy prices have gone up dramatically. Electricity has jumped 20 percent in the last year and is projected to increase by 30 percent next year without government action. Gas prices are likely to take a similar hike, depending on the deal the Federal Government does with the states to cap prices.

High gas prices are not only driving up our power bills, they’re also making it unaffordable for people that rely on gas to cook and heat their homes. Switching to electricity saves money and emissions.

Increasing energy costs are a massive problem for people on low incomes including pensioners and those on benefit payments. Energy already makes up more than 10 percent of household expenditure for these groups.

Locally Hepburn leads the way on community renewable projects and energy efficiency. Hepburn Energy runs the Leonard’s Hill wind farm. They are currently working towards a solar farm on the site. A solar farm would help community transition with a low social and ecological impact. The planned solar farm would produce over 8000 MWh per year.

If the solar farm goes ahead, the co-operative will almost double its generation capacity, adding 5MW (AC) of solar. This will be enough to offset an additional 1,800 homes, contributing to the Hepburn Shire-wide target for zero-net energy by 2025.

Hepburn Energy is also piloting a local community electricity retail offer they hope to roll out more widely if it is successful.

The new Labor Government has also promised a community battery to be co-located at the community wind farm. The co-operative has a planning permit in place for up to 10MWh of storage.

In addition, the co-operative will be running a second round of both the EV Bulk Buy and the Heat Pump Hot Water Bulk Buy in early 2023 to support locals and members to transition.

In the meantime price hikes, local outages and concerns about greenhouse emissions are driving solar roof top installations. More than 1000 households in the Daylesford area have already installed roof top solar.

Not surprisingly, a recent survey of 2000 Australians by community group Solar Citizens  found a staggering 78 per cent of Australians want the Federal Government to subsidise household battery storage.

Solar Citizens argue that the Federal Government should listen to the demand for subsidies to help people invest in roof top solar and home batteries.

They want the Federal Government to help make solar and storage more affordable by expanding the national Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme to also include support for people to install household storage, and providing no-interest loans for people to invest in clean technology.

The survey Solar Citizen’s conducted found that  48 per cent of respondents said they would consider installing household solar or battery storage if they could access a government-provided no-interest loan. Due to high gas prices, 31 per cent also said they would consider replacing gas appliances with electric if they could access a government loan.

Locals can find out how to reduce bills and emissions at the Hepburn Z-NET website.