Key Result/Vision: A community which is self-reliant in our energy needs with a minimal ecological footprint and a model for other communities.
Goal 1: Local production, local storage and local distribution of renewable energy is optimised.
Goal 2: Energy demands of the community are minimised.
Goal 3: Community Awareness and Energy Literacy is high.
(See the full plan here.)
News and Updates...
Life Beyond the Feed In Tariff - The session was a great success with nearly 100 people attending. Watch this space for links to articles and some of the recordings. You can also check out the Infographic we handed out on the day.
Smart Meter Signal Strength - There was info given on the day regarding the strength of the smart meter signals. It has been pointed out to us that the information given is not supported by the research undertaken in Victoria, which indicates that smart meters have a similar power output to mobile phones, only transmitting every 4 hours instead of every 30 seconds, and much further away from the human body. The radiation is less than that produced by many other household appliances and less than some current analogue meters.See http://www.smartmeters.vic.gov.au/about-smart-meters/reports-and-consultations/ami-meter-em-field-survey-report
Nonetheless, we understand that people have concerns about any radiation and the aggregated effect of more and more devices coming on line.
UPDATE - Important!! GOOD NEWS!! Just when we had given up all hope of Essential Energy coming to the party, they have now advised that an appropriately qualified electrician can rewire the single phase Gross Meter for Net and submit a notice of service work to Essential Energy. They will then change the Gross Meter register 70 to Net in their system.
This is only applicable for single phase installations and the cost is around $180.00 as opposed to $385.00 for a new Net meter. If the installation is 2 or 3 phase a 3 phase Net meter must be installed at a cost of around $645.00.
This is relevant to people who either do not want smart meters OR cannot have smart meters due to poor mobile phone reception.
At the info session we provided a Handout from the Report on “Life After FiTs” by the Alternative Technology Association commissioned by the Total Environment Centre. The full report is available on the Solar Citizens website plus a 1 minute video: http://www.solarcitizens.org.au/life_after_fits
Enova Energy An exciting Northern Rivers initiative to create Australia’s first community owned electricity retailer has achieved its investmenet target and has now commenced operating. You can now sign up as and Enova customer. This intiative is an outcome of the North Coast Energy Forums. A community-owned retailer will create numerous potential opportunities for community based energy projects. More info about Enova here.
For info about 'green' electricity retailers while we wait to make the switch to Enova, see the Greenpeace Green Electricity Guide.
Plugged in and Switched On!
The Nimbin Community Solar Farm was officially switched on in March 2011. 
The 45kWh farm is located across 6 community-owned buildings and has achieved or exceeded its anuual generation target of 61,000 kWh per year.
We officially celebrated the completion of the Solar Farm installations on Thursday 31 March 2011 at the Nimbin Bowlo.
To see the NBN News coverage of the event click here
Click here to see the Solar Farm LIVE!!
The project was funded by DEEWR under the Jobs Fund Stream (Round One) to install at least 30kW grid feed solar systems in the village of Nimbin, hosted by a minimum of 3 not for profit organisations.
In fact we achieved 45kW of solar systems at 6 not-for-profit organisations around the village.
They are Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre, Nimbin Sports, Bowling and Recreation Club, Nimbin Community School (Tomato Sauce Building), Nimbin School of Arts, Blue Knob Hall, Nimbin Headers Soccer Club, and NNIC.
This is a social enterprise project and income derived from the from the farm is applied directly to employment outcomes.
The project involves a partnership between NNIC and Rainbow Power Company, plus a partnership between the 6 not for profit Host organisations.
THE PROJECT AIMS TO:
Reduce the carbon footprint of the community and contribute to the community goal of becoming at least energy neutral . Increase renewable energy being contributed to the grid. Reduce energy consumption by increasing awareness.
Improve the sustainability of NNIC re income.
Create local employment and education opportunities.
Demonstrate a working model for community solar farming in rural communities.
Work towards a share-farm model for the local community
Focus attention on Nimbin’s considerable progress re energy neutrality.
Develop tourism opportunities which focus on sustainability achievements of Nimbin.
NNIC’s Sustainability Survey conducted over December 09 -January 10 confirmed the high numbers of Nimbin-ites on stand-alone solar power (37% of respondents) and low average daily power use (7.64kWh per day). This was confirmed by anotjer survey in late 2011. [insert details]. It has been estimated that the Community Solar Project, together with the residential uptake of grid-feed solar systems in Nimbin, as well as the many existing stand-alone systems will, in combination, on a sunny day, generate up to 75% of the residential power needs of the Nimbin township.
Team Leader of NNIC and Project Manager Natalie Meyer said, “The fact that we have been able as a community to pull this project together in spite of numerous challenges is testament to the strength of the Nimbin community. When something is important enough, we can effectively unite and work towards a common goal. I don’t believe we could have got the project to where it is in any other community.”
The project has also been made possible though the extensive pro bono legal advice generously provided by the Environmental Defenders Office (Lismore) and Holding Redlich Lawyers (Sydney).
BUILDING ON COMMUNITY STRENGTHS:
The Nimbin community has a 30 year history of designing and operating renewable power systems.
Rainbow Power Co and NNIC were established by the same individual (Peter Pedals) over 30 years ago.
Nimbin as a community has been engaged in sustainability issues since the 1970s.
There is an openness and enthusiasm for innovation in the community, within NNIC and RPC.
There is a high level of ownership of land and buildings in the township by not for profit organisations – inc NNIC located on the old public school site which was bought by the community and is now owned and operated by Nimbin Community Centre Inc.