Local leaders | Innovation: Get on board the renewables train

"Communities are doing it for themselves", sounds a bit like the words of a rural revival pop song. But in the area of electricity supply it's becoming truer every day.

Paul Cockram

Paul Cockram

Of all the areas in Australia where government is primarily responsible for service provision, power supply, despite its tight regulatory framework, is the most economically chaotic. An asset sale here, a privatisation there and an attitude towards the buyers of, "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full sir" has brought us steep electricity prices.

As we move inevitably towards more renewable energy in the mix, communities like ours are in the box seat. We're relatively small, cohesive when it matters, and we're surrounded by an abundant sun-swept and wind-blown landscape.

The beauty of solar and wind is that after paying for the collection infrastructure, the fuel arrives forever and for free. If we invest our own money (and that can include borrowings) in a cooperatively-owned renewable power station, we will save a lot of money.

It is not necessary or possible at this stage to know exactly what type of installation would best suit our needs or where it might be sited. But if we can show that we want to canvass our options, then the next stage would be to lobby government for assistance to undertake a feasibility study.

The move towards solar and wind is gaining momentum across the world. Investors are seeing the opportunities for great profits. If we don't get on with it, the ShysterWattCo will build a solar farm down the road and sell us our own sunlight for just a tiny bit less than the expensive coal stuff.

That would be such a tragic missed opportunity.