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By Kath Gannaway

Yarra Glen is edging its way towards a community-owned solar project with a workshop to be held on Saturday, 25 March.
The workshop, from 1pm to 4.30pm, will explore how a Community-Owned Solar project could work in the town.
The project has come from a recommendation of the Yarra Glen People’s Panel that 10 per cent of the proceeds from the sale of council-owned land in Bell Street (the former maternal health centre site) be allocated to a renewable energy project.
Taryn Lane, consultant with Embark Australia Community Renewable Energy will facilitate the discussion on how the proposed project could work, drawing on best practice examples of community-owner renewable energy schemes from around Australia.
Ms Lane recently attended the Coalition for Community Energy Congress, with four Yarra Glen residents ahead of the community meeting.
The group came away with a range of ideas and tools as well as a power of knowledge based on the first-hand experiences of others who have already gone down the community-owned solar track.
John Stalwell said it was good to see what was possible.
“That’s why we were there, just to be aware of what could be done, what the requirements were, what the restrictions are and what’s holding people back.”
“From there, we picked up a number of tools and looked at what people have done.”
Among the issues to be considered is the pool of money available and the type and scope of projects.
“Do we look at starting with a solar garden, or do we look at starting with a bunch of solar panels to support a local business and sell them the power, and re-invest the profits from that,” Rebecca Johnston said.
Other options were a long-term goal of a micro-grid.
She said she was heartened by the fact that people in Yarra Glen voted for a solar project.
“I think there’s great potential for solar in the Yarra Valley,” she said.
The Community Solar Energy Workshop is a further opportunity for Yarra Glen community members to get involved in the project and have a say.
Ms Lane said she was pleased to be involved.
“I am very pleased to be able to work with the Yarra Glen community on this exciting project and to help develop a project scope that matches the interests, skills and energy of participants in the town,” she said.
Yarra Glen community members can register for the workshop by emailing Jess Adams at j.adams@yarraranges.vic.gov.au, or phone 9294 6866.

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