Renters going solar and a regenerative gruffalo

In The Sustainable Hour on 13 December 2017, we talk about Tony’s trip last week to the front line in the battle against the Adani coal mine in Queensland. Tony interviewed 71-year-old Audrey Cooke about why she locked herself on to a gate to stop the construction work from going ahead.

1.7 million homes in Australia now have solar on the roof, but only very few of these are rental homes. Matter Solar and Solar Citizens have partnered to change that. They have come up with a model that makes it easier for renters to get access to the solar arrays, and this means that that third of Australia that rents now can have power that is 20 per cent cheaper than grid electricity. We find out how it all works by talking with two key people behind this great initiative: Shani Tager, senior campaigner from Solar Citizens and Chris Mrakas, CEO and founder of Matter Solar, a company based in South Yarra which has invested 20 million dollars in the project.

Towards the end of the hour we talk with Rescope founder Anthony James over a phoneline to Perth, as we prepare to broadcast five of his podcasts on FM airwaves over the summer holiday. Rescope has an exciting mission and goals about “empowering people to regenerate the systems and stories we live by, for life on Earth to flourish” that we believe Geelong should hear about.

We also find room for the new song ’Gruffalo Blues’ and a Greenpeace video with British actor Emma Thompson


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 199 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour


MATTER SOLAR | INTERVIEW:

Chris Mrakas

» Read more on Matter Solar’s home page:
matter.solar


Here is a description of the situation Matter Solar aspires to change – ABC wrote four months ago: “In New South Wales, more than 350,000 households have solar PV systems. But according to the 2016 census, more than 2.6 million people in the state can’t access solar energy to help offset electricity bills because they are renting properties or living in an apartment block.”

» ABC Radio Sydney – 17 August 2017:
Millions can’t reduce power bills through solar panels due to rise in rentals and apartment living
“Australia might lead the world for household solar energy use, but millions of people are being locked out of the benefits due to a rise in apartment living and declines in home ownership.”


Geelong landlord and tenant go solar

Locally, Geelong Sustainability’s CORE team has recently completed a case study into the feasibility of solar on rental properties and in December 2017 helped broker a agreement between a landlord and tenant to get a 5.9kW solar system.

Initially the CORE Geelong team was able to review the tenant’s energy bills and identify a far better electricity tariff, immediately saving the tenant $638 per year.

Under the arrangement the landlord purchases the solar system and the tenant makes repayments via a fixed increase in the rent. We have modelled the economic benefits of the solar installation to ensure the benefits are split between both parties.

The tenant will see savings of a further 20% off their already improved electricity bills. The landlord will have fully repaid the investment in 10 years and received a 3% return, as well as receive a tax benefit, and increase the property’s value with the addition of a solar asset. That’s a win, win!

» Read the Solar for Rental Properties – Case Study (PDF)

» For more info on this, contact Dan Cowdell, Geelong Sustainability Project Coordinator, via:
www.geelongsustainability.org.au/contact



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ATA:

Solar for renters and apartment dwellers

Newsletter from ReNew magazine.

ReNew 142 focuses is on landlords and renters, and how they can get in on the solar revolution.

“We’re proud of this issue!”, writes ATA in their newsletter. The magazine is available online now  – and in newsagents on 4 January 2018.   

Renters and residents of strata complexes have traditionally struggled to access solar. Dr Björn Sturmberg and Anna Cumming report on how these groups can join the solar revolution.

» Read more on renew.org.au

In one example of sharing the solar benefits, Dev and his partner Linnet – featured on our cover this issue – negotiated with their landlady for the installation of solar panels on their rental house.

» Read the case study


Solar panel buyers guide 2018


For an updated solar panel buyers guide, ATA contacted photovoltaics manufacturers for details on warranties, cell types, size and price to help you decide which solar panels are best for you.

» Read more


More advice on choosing solar

The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) develop some pretty special tools to help people be as environmentally sustainable as possible in their homes and communities. Check their new online Free Solar and Battery Advice Service – Australia’s first, free independent and comprehensive solar and battery calculator – that gives you the information you need to properly size your solar and/or battery system.

» Watch the video with Damien Moyse, ATA’s energy projects manager, explaining the online free solar and battery advice service, and get your free advice now.

ATA has also recently updated their popular Solar Electricity booklet which contains plenty of information to help you plan your own solar system.

» Buy it from the ATA Webshop from $5 (member discount applies).

And if you’re thinking of buying yourself or someone you love a subscription to ReNew this holiday season, you can download a gift card for printing here.



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#STOPADANI | INTERVIEW:

Audrey Cooke






#StopAdani campaign progress

» The Guardian – 12 December 2017:
Annastacia Palaszczuk to officially veto Adani railway loan after swearing in
“Letter confirming veto will be sent to Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal National party elects new leadership team.”



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Leith Hill Community Blues Band: ‘Gruffalo Blues’

Leith Hill is one of southern England’s best loved areas of outstanding natural beauty. A decade ago the Forestry Commission decided to lease Bury Hill Wood on Leith Hill to Europa Oil and Gas to be drilled for oil. For the last nine years, the local community has campaigned tirelessly to protect our beloved hill from this proposal.

Last summer, a local mother and baby group had the idea of doing some Gruffalo-themed family protest events in response to the Forestry Commission’s recent Gruffalo-branded promotional activities. Inspired by this, a local dad decided to finish off a woodland musical instrument project for his kids and one evening used it to write Gruffalo Blues. A number of recording sessions were then held in the area and out of these sessions the Leith Hill Community Blues Band was formed.

The band is asking the Gruffalo to join them in reminding his friends at the Forestry Commission that they should be acting in accordance with their corporate mission statement and protecting the forests and woodlands rather than selling them off to the fossil fuel industry.

Published on youtube.com on 3 December 2017



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Shani Tager, senior campaigner from Solar Citizens

For the last ten years, Shani has led campaigns to move Australia away from old and polluting sources of energy. Hailing from the sunshine state, she has spent vast amounts of time on the road, working with communities to protect farmland and most recently the Great Barrier Reef from inappropriate coal developments. Having experienced the benefits of rooftop solar firsthand, she’s excited to be working with Solar Citizens to bring about 100% clean energy for all Australians.



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ENERGY POLICY:

Fight for the Victorian Renewable Energy Target

The state government in Victoria is leading the way on renewables and community engagement. This year has seen a series of big announcements coming out of Victoria about the new Victoria Renewable Energy Target, a clean energy job fund, and lots of renewable energy projects.

The Victorian Government recently released its community engagement and benefit sharing guidelines for its wind and solar auctions. The Australian Wind Alliance commented that, “It might be a mouthful, but this comprehensive document will set the standard for community engagement in Victoria and around Australia, into the future. Prioritising good community practices and ensuring the benefits of wind farms are shared community-wide is a win-win for regional Australia and the renewables industry.”

Meanwhile, our local Member of Parliament Andrew Katos says his Liberal party is going to the state election next year pledging to dismantle the Victorian Renewable Energy Target. 


The Liberals and Nationals think our energy system needs to continue burning coal and pumping more pollution into our atmosphere.

Dramatic temperature shifts are visibly dismantling our planet’s ecological systems. A global scientific report warns that temperatures at the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and the melting ice is triggering environmental changes that will affect the whole world. The rapid rising temperatures have turned California into a burning hell.

Take a look at what’s happening in South Africa now: Parts of Cape Town has been declared “disaster area”‚ with entire towns running out of water in the worst drought ever. Four million people gripped by a rising panic… what will happen when there’s no more water? Riots? Looting for water?

SBS World News is now – finally! – beginning to refer to climate change science when they report on the extreme weather disasters around the world. Well, at least it happened once recently, and we are hopeful it wasn’t a lone swallow.

The main point, Mr Katos, Mr Darryn Lyons, and everyone else in the Geelong region who are backing the Liberal and National parties for the next state election, is this: 

With the evidence of climate change becoming so stark, you guys are thoroughly placing yourself on the wrong and dark side of history. As the climate emergency unfolds, we have reach that point of no return where has become deeply immoral and highly irresponsible for any political party to be supporting and advocating for a ‘business as usual’ approach to energy generation.
  

As the conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May exemplifies when she states that tackling climate change is a moral imperative, this is not – and has never been – a right-versus-left-wing issue. Any political party that deliberately causes policy uncertainty to please its allies in the coal and gas industry is committing an intergenerational crime. Allowing the Australians to overload the atmosphere with heat-trapping gasses means locking in those who come after us – as well as people in poorer, less resilient nations than Australia – to pay a heavy price.

Here is how the French president, Emmanuel Macron, put it:

“We’re losing the battle against climate change”

“The urgency is permanent and our generation’s challenge is to act, act faster and win this battle against time, and to put in place concrete measures that will change our countries, our societies, our economies. So that our children and maybe even ourselves can choose our future and not suffer through global warming.”
~ Emmanuel Macron, President of France



“We need politicians that are focused on the needs of young people, rather than their next campaign donation from a mining company,” Andrea Pape wrote in a Facebook note as she was re-posting a sad story about a starving polar bear.

The discussions among our elected leaders about climate change and renewable energy have never been a question about right or left, blue or red in politics, as voters falsely are manipulated to believe. It is all about the protection of vested interests and the influence on parliamentarian decision-making by fossil fuel industry lobbyists.

National Energy Mismanagement Guarantee
Every week we hear about renewable energy projects that are cancelled because of the federal government’s hostile anti-renewables strategy. This week, for instance, property owner GPT Group pressed pause on their plans to install a further 30MW of commercial solar arrays. They said that fresh energy policy uncertainty stirred up by the Turnbull government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee was the reason.

» One Stop Off The Grid – 14 December 2017:
Commercial solar blow as GPT hits pause on 30MW PV rollout

» The Guardian – 12 December 2017:
Theresa May puts tackling climate change back on Tory agenda
“Prime minister says there is a ‘moral imperative’ to help vulnerable countries as she prepares for summit in Paris.”
 
» RenewEconomy – 12 December 2017:
Turnbull blows trumpet for right wing idiocy on energy
“Asked about his warnings – made in 2010 – that failing to address climate change would endanger future generations, Turnbull predicted a long future for fossil fuels, and repeated the usual fear-mongering about wind and solar.”

» The Washington Post – 14 December 2017:
How France’s Macron is becoming the world’s climate change leader



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ENERGY POLICY:

Stop the National Energy Guarantee



The Energy Security Board works on a plan to derail investment in wind and solar. If the so-called National Energy Guarantee goes ahead, it will be worse than business as usual for renewable energy. It will be a boon for big power companies and polluting coal stations, and it will lock Australian households out of the benefits of clean energy – casting a shadow on Australia’s 1.7 million solar rooftops. We’ve got four months to fight back, wrote Solar Citizens in a newsletter:


“The Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) has just been thrown a lifeline. After this morning’s COAG meeting, the Energy Security Board now has four more months to further develop this anti-renewables plan.

Luckily, there is sunlight cutting through the clouds: at the meeting South Australia and the ACT stood up and said the NEG just isn’t good enough, showing they’ve listened to the voices of solar owners and supporters all across the country.

We now have until April 2018 to build support and make sure the other states and territories join SA and the ACT to stop the NEG in its tracks.

Since this plan was announced, we’ve galvanised, with thousands of Solar Citizens across the country putting pressure on 146 of our Federal MPs. Despite attack after attack on renewable energy from vested interests and unsupportive parties we’ve manage to keep Australia sunny-side up.

We’ve got a fight ahead of us, but we know we can prevail with the support of our solar-loving community. Together we:

• Helped save the Renewable Energy Target when Tony Abbott was determined to axe it.


• Were part of the campaign that won solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta.


• Stopped big power companies, regulators and networks numerous times from discriminating against solar with unfair charges.


And we’ll do it again. With millions of solar owners and supporters standing together, our voices can’t be ignored. We can and will protect and grow renewables in Australia.

Now, more than ever, we need to keep up our momentum. Help us do what we do best – campaign and win for the future of solar in our great sunny country.

Give what you can to support our work. Your contribution will amplify Solar Citizens’ campaigns to repower the country with 100% renewable power: training up volunteers to lobby local MPs, producing groundbreaking reports like our The Homegrown Power Plan and Solar Savings Report, and raising the voice of solar owners and supporters in the media, all over Australia.

Maria,
Acting National Director, Solar Citizens

» Solar Citizens home page:
www.solarcitizens.org.au



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LIBERAL SENATOR:

“Australia could become the world’s source of solar energy”

In 1973, an Australian Liberal politician put a case for solar energy in the Senate. On 29 November 1973, Don Jessop made this statement in the Australian parliament:
“It is quite apparent to world scientists that the silent pollutant, carbon dioxide, is increasing in the atmosphere and will cause us great concern in the future. (…) Of course, I am putting a case for solar energy. Australia is a country that can well look forward to a very prosperous future if it concentrates on solar energy right now. Scientists say that it will take about 20 years to perfect this source of energy but I am convinced, and there is scientific backing for my belief, that the development of solar energy can be accelerated and that probably within 10 years solar energy could be a definite proposition for Australia.”
 
» Read more

» Many more ‘climatic clippings’ from the week that went



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Rescope Project:

Anthony James

Anthony James is an advisor, educator, writer, speaker, musician, host of the podcast Rescope Radio, and Executive Director of The Rescope Project.

“The Rescope Project empowers people to regenerate the systems and stories we live by, for life on Earth to flourish.”

» Read more on www.rescopeproject.org.au

» More about Anthony James



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Pollution deadlier than war

“Pollution is deadlier than war. No one and nothing is safe when it comes to the damaging effects of pollution. At least nine million people worldwide die prematurely each year—including 3,000 Australians, due to contaminated water, air and exposure to other natural resources made toxic by pollutants. It affects the air we breathe, the water we use and the land we walk on. And it doesn’t only affect you and I. Globally, each year one million seabirds, including albatrosses, gannets and terns, and 100,000 marine mammals, including seals and sea lions, whales and dolphins…are killed by environmental pollutants.”
~ Rich Gilmore, country director, Nature Conservancy Australia



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“Society is at a tipping point, but it needs a big push if we’re going to escape the status quo (which basically leads to catastrophic climate change). So we want to take affirmative actions that delay new fossil fuel projects.”
~ Drew Hudson, 198 methods



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 ADDITIONALLY: 

In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about








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icon_small-arrow_RIGHT Podcasts and posts about climate change

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Acknowledgement

We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…



The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?




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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Pete Seeger, American singer