First community-owned renewable energy plant in Geelong

Dan Cowdell - Christine Couzens -Lily D Ambrosio

The launch event of a 520 solar system at MACS – Multicultural Aged Care Services in West Geelong – in July 2018 marked the completion of a four-year dream to create a large-scale solar project in Geelong. Listen to an excerpt of the speeches at the event.

The project, titled ‘Geelong CORE 1’ – where CORE stands for Community-Owned Renewable Energy – had been able to raise $150,000 in the community within a week. It also received a $188,000 State Government grant to develop the project’s structure and model properly, so that it can be replicated over and over again.

Geelong Sustainability project co-ordinator Dan Cowdell explained in his speech that his group is now looking at other host sites to start raising funds for and building Core 2, then Core 3, and so on.


Cowdell and his CORE team has done a fantastic job in creating a sense of dynamism and passion around this project and renewal energy in general. Geelong Sustainability currently run a number of ‘lighthouse projects’ and they play a really important role in changing the community narrative about renewables – changing the story.

For instance, in conjunction with ShineHub, the group has rolled out a community solar bulk-buy program where 250 residents across Geelong have signed up to have solar panels installed, with about 75 per cent adding battery storage – creating a virtual power plant in Geelong of over one megawatt.

“This project at MACS highlights the potential for community-owned solar to help drive Victoria’s transition to renewable energy,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio. Member for Geelong Christine Couzens added that Geelong Sustainability Group is part of a broad network of businesses, community groups and individuals which are doing great work to reduce the impact of climate change.

Listen to the speeches at the launch event, which was opened by Geelong Sustainability president Vicki Perrett:



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Community-backed solar delivering for Geelong

“Residents living in Geelong’s Multicultural Aged Care Centre Services (MACS) will soon have access to cheaper energy, thanks to a 520-panel solar project funded by the Andrews Labor Government.”

On 19 July 2018, the Victorian government published a media release about two of Geelong Sustainability’s solar project:

“Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio joined Member for Geelong Christine Couzens to open the project, which will reduce MACS’s operating costs. The Labor Government provided $188,000 to Geelong Sustainability Group for the project, with more than $150,000 raised by the local community.

The funding was provided through the Labor Government’s New Energy Jobs Fund, which has already awarded more than $12.6 million to 45 projects.

Minister D’Ambrosio also announced that Geelong Sustainability Group will receive $300,000 for its Climate Safe Rooms project.
This initiative will provide 20 vulnerable households in the Geelong area with energy-efficiency upgrades to make their homes comfortable during the temperature extremes of summer and winter.

The rooms will be fully insulated and draught-proofed with high efficiency air-conditioning and a small solar system to offset running costs.

Geelong Sustainability Group will work with the City of Greater Geelong, Kildonan Uniting Care and EcoMaster to create the safe havens in the homes of people most at risk of serious illness or death from climate extremes.

The City of Greater Geelong’s Community Care department will identify 20 of the most vulnerable households to receive the free home energy audit and retrofit package.”



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Surf Coast Times published this article about it:



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