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A new tide: Council set to pay respect and build a vision

For the past five years the idea of renewables, climate change and proactive vision was met by a mainly non-responsive, if not troglodytic Council who were of the opinion, just months out from the 2020 bushfires, that there was no need to declare a Climate Emergency and that the weather was little more than "variable and changing". That head-in-the-sand approach saw a community backlash that fortunately saw most of the naysayers disappear in the last local government election. A new term of Councillors, a modern, fresh, informed team standing on issues of engagement and community values and respect are beginning to make inroads into turning around one of the most toxic periods in Eurobodalla Shire Council history. Next week it will be a pleasure to see Katherine Maxwell and other SHASA members in Council chambers to listen to Councillors Mathew Hatcher and Alison Worthington give notice that, at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on Tuesday 26 April 2022, they will move a motion that Council acknowledges the efforts by Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) to increase the renewable energy sector within the Eurobodalla. The motion will also seek to provide in principle support to Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance to undertake a Eurobodalla Solar Farm and Community Battery Feasibility Study. The councillors offer:

"Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) is a not-for-profit organisation which undertakes projects to achieve a more resilient community in the Eurobodalla. "They champion renewable energy, sustainability and community resilience. To date SHASA has obtained approximately $1.5m in funding to implement projects. "SHASA is a partner in the Southcoast µ-grid Reliability Feasibility (SµRF) project which is overseen by the Australian National University and is also partnered with Essential Energy and Zebden on a $3m feasibility study into microgrids. The project aims to develop planning tools and business models to support investment in a ‘grid of microgrids’ across the Eurobodalla thereby improving the resilience in the energy network. "Repower Shoalhaven, a community energy group, partnered with the Shoalhaven City Council to establish a 3MW solar farm. "Shoalhaven City Council played a critical role in achieving this outcome including the provision of land (leased for the solar farm for 30 years) and an accelerated Development Application process. The energy generated at the facility is being sold via power purchases agreements through Flow Power. "Already 20% of the power has been purchased by Sydney City Council and the rest will be offered to local businesses. SHASA submitted an expression of interest to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Innovate to Regenerate Fund to undertake a feasibility study of a Eurobodalla community solar farm and community battery to improve reliability of the grid and produce more local energy. "WWF have recently requested SHASA to submit a full application by 28 April 2022 and are seeking $50,000 via the grant to assist with costs associated with developing the feasibility study."

Above: Kathryn Maxwell of SHASHA at the ready in case anyone needs to learn how to hold a hose. Photo: St Vincent de Paul. With the support of Council, SHASA could undertake a feasibility study into the potential for a Eurobodalla solar farm and community battery project with options for private investors, inclusive of the community to invest.

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