Christmas tidings

As Christmas fast approaches, we thought it would be timely to send out a short update on what we’ve been doing recently at SolarShare to help make a community-owned solar farm a reality here in Canberra.

ACT Government Community Solar Scheme
Some of you may have heard of the ACT Government’s Community Solar Scheme announced last year (see here for more details) and may be wondering what it is and if SolarShare is involved in some way.

Well, the short answers are a) it’s a feed-in tariff designed especially for community solar projects such as ours, and b) yes we are!

The scheme offers up to 20c per kilowatt hour generated for 20 years (which we think is a very good offer in the current climate), so we’ve been beavering away on a formal proposal with the ACT Government. There are two potential sites we are developing for this project, the details for the Mugga one are up on our projects page already and we have an alternate in the works as well which may prove to be an even better alternative.

To be clear, we think this is currently our best chance at getting a decent return for our investors, so we’re pursuing this option as our first priority.

An important part of the process is engagement with the wider community as well as other groups that may have an interest in the proposed development. Over the last few months we’ve been gauging the general community’s feelings by meeting with various Community Councils, giving presentations about SolarShare and hearing any feedback they have to offer. The level of engagement has been great and we'd really like to thank the community councils and conservation council for the warm welcome that we received.  

What's coming next…
The biggest decision we have to make soon is which of the two sites we'll progress with for our flagship project. Once that decision is made we will make an application for the ACT Government's Community Solar Scheme in the new year.

SolarShare Profile: Lawrence McIntosh
Lawrence is SolarShare’s Project Leader. We asked him to reflect on a few questions:

Q. How did SolarShare come about?

A. A friend set up a solar system on his roof about eight years ago. He wanted to let his friends own a part of it too, so he sold 100W shares to some of his close friends.  Doing this got us thinking it would be great to do something like this on a larger scale.

Q. What’s been your most rewarding experience so far?

A. Through SolarShare I was lucky enough to be a part of the Foundation for Young Australian's Young Social Pioneers program. They run a really great course on social entrepreneurship and I have met some people through doing that who I know will be lifelong friends.

Q. what kind of things do you do at SolarShare?

A. My job is to keep an eye on all the balls we have in the air. It’s great working with such a motivated team so I'm usually there to make sure we focus on what’s important for the next three to six months.  Recently this has mostly been a lot of work around community consultation for the flagship site, starting discussions with potential rooftop sites and negotiating finance and other partnerships.  

Q. Where would you like to see things go in the future?

A. We will be releasing a toolkit for other groups to be able to share our model when creating their own community solar project, and we’ve already been contacted by other groups around the country who are keen. This will be hugely gratifying as it will mean SolarShare can help catalyze lots of other community solar around the country.

Q. Do you have anything else to add?

A. There are really so very many people to thank who have been instrumental in helping SolarShare get this far. Our volunteers, board members, SEE-Change and everyone out there in the community registered to invest just to name a few.

Until next time,
Steve and the SolarShare team

PS. We apologize to all those out there who would love nothing more than to invest in a piece of solar farm right away. The process is taking longer than we anticipated to come to fruition, but we're determined to get the best outcome for everyone involved. We do sincerely value and appreciate your patience!