Push to drive local renewable investment

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A proposal to let local communities invest in large-scale renewable projects in their area is being scrutinised by a federal parliamentary inquiry.

Independent MP Helen Haines is pushing for the creation of another energy agency to sit alongside the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Australian Local Power Agency would help drive investment in renewables at a local level.

It would include hinging ministerial approval for large renewable projects on locals living within 30km being given a chance to invest.

Renewable energy groups, ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation gave evidence at a lower house inquiry on Friday about how this could work.

Local groups wanted to see more opportunities for and investment in renewables.

Renewable Energy Albury Wodonga said northeast Victoria was largely dependent on power generation in the Gippsland region.

"Every bushfire season we are vulnerable to the loss of towers and power lines," the group said in its submission.

"Renewable energy owned by the community and locally based allows a far more resilient industry and community."

But the inquiry was also told of concerns that community-level investment risked slowing down projects or creating complications for other investors.

The proposed $467 million agency would involve the establishment of 50 local hubs letting communities develop their own renewable energy projects using grants of up to $500,000 a year for five years.

Dr Haines' proposal would also require all large-scale renewable projects to give local residents a chance to invest in them from July 2023.

The MP for Indi in northeast Victoria pointed to the "sheer size of the pent-up energy and enthusiasm across regional Australia to act on the golden economic opportunity in locally-owned renewables".

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