New grant scheme for energy efficiency in the community

09 Feb 2012 by Peter

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I know, the title doesn’t sound that exciting, but if you’re a community group or local government you need to know about this one.

Today the Federal Government announced the official opening of three new grant schemes under the Clean Energy Future banner.

  • The $40 million energy efficiency information grants scheme is offering funding of up to $1 million to industry associations and non-profits for the development of information resources targeted at small and medium-sized businesses and community organisations.
  • The $200 million community energy efficiency program is offering grants to councils and community organisations of up to $5 million for energy efficiency projects targeting community-use buildings, facilities and lighting.
  • There’s also $100 million set aside for the low income energy efficiency program which offers grants of up to $10 million trial and evaluate projects to help low-income households become more energy efficient.

It’s the second one on that list that we’re particularly excited about, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s been a long time coming! It was parked ahead of the Clean Energy Future legislation so it could be unveiled again with all the other sweeteners to help the carbon tax go down easily. It’s also good to see the Federal Government sharing the love around. The local government and community sector hasn’t had much attention when it comes to handouts in the energy efficiency space, with the commercial building sector seemingly getting the lions share, most recently via the feeding frenzy that was the Green Building Fund. And, we have a lot of councils on our client list and we’ve already been chatting to excited councils about what they might be able to achieve with the help of a grant.

So, what’s the Community Energy Efficiency Program all about? Quoting verbatim from the guidelines:

The objectives of the Community Energy Efficiency Program (the Program) are to:
• support a range of local councils and community organisations increase the energy efficiency of different types of non-residential council and community-use buildings, facilities and lighting
• demonstrate and encourage the adoption of improved energy management practices within councils, organisations and the broader community.

In addition to the objectives above, the Program will provide the following benefits:
• better services and improved amenity of buildings and community facilities
• minimising energy consumption and costs to manage the impacts of the carbon price
• building the knowledge and capacity of the energy services and construction industry, and supporting competitive Australian energy efficiency technology and equipment manufacturers
• contributing to the national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sounds pretty good to us.  Specifically focused on community and councils but broad in terms of what kinds of projects might get support. One point I should make is that solar PV installations will not be eligible. Solar has had a pretty good crack of the whip in recent times so it’s good to see a scheme focused purely on energy efficiency. 

The full details are in the guidelines but get your skates on as round one applications close on March 23.

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