Geelong Sustainability’s journey to the Electric Homes Program

Geelong Sustainability is a not-for-profit community association and registered charity. Our vision is for people and our planet to thrive within sustainable limits. Our mission is to empower people to regenerate and protect the planet. To achieve this, we deliver projects that are focused on four strategic priorities - Climate Change, Renewable Energy, the Circular Economy and Sustainable Cities.

Since our establishment in 2007, Geelong Sustainability has become the region’s leading sustainability group with extensive networks in community, government and business throughout Geelong and the Barwon South West region. We are recognised for our evidence-based innovative projects, which educate and support our community’s transition to a net zero, circular economy.

We work closely with the community to build their capacity to address climate change and empower people to make the tangible changes we need to see in this climate emergency.

A few years ago we began exploring the best way to work with the community to access further solar and increase the local uptake in renewable energy.  We identified that there are a number of challenges facing people when it comes to getting solar. Trust is a huge issue and generally residents don’t know who to trust or how to find a reputable solar installer.  Confusion over technology, what brands  and system sizes to choose is all too often overwhelming and leads to many residents not proceeding.  Finally, the upfront cost of investing in solar has been a huge barrier for some households and can lead to many residents being left behind during this clean energy revolution.

Our aim was to develop a program to counter each of these challenges; we wanted to make the process of getting solar easy for residents. This is where the Geelong Community Solar Program was launched in 2021.

The program became the region’s largest ever solar bulk-buy, closed on 31 December 2021 with 281 locals residents and businesses installing solar and batteries. Around 2.5 MW of renewable energy was added to the local electricity grid, exceeding the original goal set out by Geelong Sustainability.

RACV Solar, one of the delivery partners, donated a solar panel for every system installed. Thanks to the community uptake we were able to donate a considerable amount of solar to the community. These panels were donated to and installed on not-for-profit community organisations, including Point Lonsdale Lawn Bowls Club, Apollo Bay Mechanics Hall, FeedMe Geelong, Anglesea Arthouse, Gellibrand Community House, Norlane Community Centre, Torquay Tigers Football Netball Club and Birregurra Lawn Bowls.

After the success of this program we wanted to expand on our previous experience and offer a more holistic program to our community that includes more elements residents require to transition to an all electric home. This is where the Electric Homes Program was developed, offering residents the opportunity to install solar, battery, EV chargers, hot water systems and split system heating and cooling to ‘electrify’ their homes. We plan for this community-led program to be bigger and better than our previous program and play a pivotal role in transitioning the region off gas, saving on emissions and building a renewable powered future together.

Thank you to those who have chosen to participate in this program that makes a difference to the community.

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