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The concept of local and decentralised forms of energy production is gaining traction within community groups across the U.S and around the world. Is Australia missing out on cheaper electricity prices and lowering our dependance on fossil fuel use through community energy initiatives?

The original article was published in The Conversation. The Article can be found here.

Around the world, people concerned about global warming and wary of higher energy costs are turning away from big power distributors in favour of local and “distributed” energy technologies and services.

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With industries such as manufacturing already facing the uncertain pressures of a globalised world, narrow minded pollies often like to use the Renewable Energy Target (RET) as a scapegoat over exploring more complex pressures on industry.

The original article was published in Facts Fight Back. The article can be found here.

Is the RET responsible for the decline of Australian manufacturing? > Check the facts

Who: “[The renewable energy target (RET)] has already put up power prices for industry to such an extent that manufacturers are shutting down and moving overseas.” Senator Ron Boswell.

The claim: Rising electricity prices due to the RET are an important contributing factor in the decline of manufacturing in Australia.

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camBy Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator.

As an environmentalist, it’s easy to say that the election of the Coalition to power is akin to the country being ‘under old management.’ The modest steps forward on environmental protection and climate change achieved under the previous government are already being swept away, back to the days of John Howard, when Australia was a pariah amongst the global community as one of the worst actors in the UN climate negotiations.

As an old school conservative, his primary focus was the culture war around the ideas that frame the national political debate. He was astute enough to make noises on the need for action on climate change towards the end of his time as PM, even though he has recently announced his scorn for the “alarmist” scientific consensus on climate change in a speech to a gathering of British climate sceptics.

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The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

It’s time to write my first proper post and already I’m feeling the weight of so much information. After just a week on the road I’ve come to realise that Colorado, Washington and Oregon are US states that are absolute hot-beds when it comes to community renewable energy projects, idea generation and policy making. Last Friday I was fortunate to attend a clean energy conference in Seattle and make contact with organisations and individuals who really are helping turn the tide when it comes to implementation and legislative change. There were several panels throughout the day and each panel featured national leaders in innovation. It really was something to behold.

I was lucky to be sitting at the same table as the day’s keynote speaker Ron Binz who was nominated by President Barrack Obama to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but was forced to withdraw after being white-anted by oil companies who declared he was biased toward clean energy. He lost a senate committee vote by one and withdrew his nomination. Mr Binz and I chatted candidly over lunch and he said he was still reeling from the disappointment in October. “It’s still very raw,” he said. I’ll have a full story with Mr Binz soon.

The most notable thing about the conference was being exposed to a range of organisations all working toward a clean energy future. Regulation is one of the biggest hurdles for policy makers and community co-operatives. Next week I will be interviewing regulators, policy writers and community organisers in Portland and Seattle. The following week I’m heading to New York state and interviewing one of the founders of Solarize – a community group buying project that is turning up in states all over the country. I’m rounding out the US component of my trip by interviewing Erin Schrode in NYC, one of the most inspiring young environmentalists I’ve come across.

Oh and one last thing. I interviewed a community solar company in Boulder, Colorado, and the day I landed there was a citizen ballot when residents voted for the City of Boulder to start buying back the grid for an electricity utility. Citizens also voted to ban fracking in three of the four major cities in Colorado – Boulder included. I sat down with one of the founders of Frack Free Colorado to get some insight into community activism to help the anti-fracking movement at home.

Here is some news …

Stay tuned – I’ll get some stories up today hopefully.

A little bit of media coverage ...

Geelong Advertiser
October 28, 2013. Page 15.


Thanks for joining my blog. I leave Australia on November 4 and will spend 12 week exploring community renewable options in the United States, Canada, Germany, Denmark and Spain. I plan to return to Australia armed with a tool box of ideas that can be implemented by councils and community organisations.