Media Release – Donald and Tarnagulla residents invited to have their say on the new energy future

25 February 2021

Donald and Tarnagulla residents have the opportunity to take part in a new study investigating the feasibility of taking both towns “off grid” and potentially changing how power is safely and reliably delivered to homes and businesses in the future.

Two community forums will be held next week, marking the start of a three-year study into the technical, cultural and social elements of powering the two towns via microgrids. It will investigate the benefits and risks of ‘islanding’ the two communities from the main electricity grid, potentially using renewable generation, energy storage and backup generation to power the new ‘microgrids’.

The study, funded by the Federal Governments’ Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund, involves a consortium of industry-leading organisations and local governments, including project lead, Centre for New Energy Technologies (C4NET), Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA), Ovida and electricity distributor Powercor.

Powercor will provide the technical expertise on the feasibility of converting parts of the network to a microgrid configuration, advising on infrastructure capacity and network operation.

Powercor’s Head of Network Strategy & Non-Network Solutions Greg Hannan said the forums are a great opportunity for community members to learn about the project and how they can participate.

“The future of energy is being driven by customer choices and Powercor has a big role in enabling them,” Mr Hannan said.

“This study will look at how we can best plan and structure microgrids to get the best outcomes for customers, communities and our environment.

“Understanding what customers want, need and expect is a critical step in the planning.”

The forum will provide information about the study process, microgrids and opportunities for the community to adopt solar and batteries, as well as provide a forum for attendees to provide feedback.

C4NET CEO James Seymour said the project was a significant opportunity for the community to take charge of their energy future.

“It’s great to see the communities of Donald and Tarnagulla be selected as the focus of this study that seeks to inform the broader microgrid feasibility for any community,’ Mr Seymour said.

“We look forward to working with a wide cross section of the community to understand their needs and see how well they could be met by the enormous potential of innovation across the electricity sector”.

The microgrid feasibility study is part of a range of activities Powercor is conducting to build a network to enable our customers benefit from solar, batteries and electric vehicles as well as support Victoria’s transition to a cleaner energy future.

More information about the project and the community forums is available at www.c4net.com.au/microgrid