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Central West NSW Co-operative

The ED Central West NSW renewable energy co-operative has an opportunity to purchase up to 44% of the Orange Community Renewable Energy Park (OCREP).  In order to secure the maximum possible community ownership, the co-op must raise around $4.58M to pay for its share before the park is commissioned towards the end of 2021. 

The park will be built regardless of how much the Co-operative is able to raise in the time available.

The project has been underwritten, meaning the underwriter will cover any shortfall in funds raised and increase its stake accordingly. 

A maximum of 917 share parcels are available to purchase, for $4,995 each. 

The New South Wales Government, through the Regional Community Energy Fund is contributing $3.5M to the project, which is a significant subsidy.

Each parcel equates to 2.5kW PV solar panels and 2.5kWh battery storage.  The parcels have been structured this way to help lower the cost to participate in the transition in the energy system though shared ownership of renewable energy systems. 

Each 2.5kW parcel of solar panels is expected to generate up to 5,196kWh of electricity in the Orange Community Renewable Energy Park and save 3,897kg of carbon in the first year.

A member’s payback on their investment is via cheaper power and sharing in cash surpluses that may be generated by the park.

The electricity generated in the park is fed into the national grid. 

The Co-operative assigns its exported generation to its members, known as a ‘virtual’ transfer of energy.  Electricity used by members of the Co-operative is delivered via the network though their meters.  The physical electricity that is exported from the renewable energy park is unlikely to be transported specifically to the members.

This virtual installation allows members (including those who rent) to gain the benefits of solar and battery storage without a physical installation and, if they move, they can move their virtual installation with them.

Some members will want to put all the production from their solar and battery storage directly into the common pool to be sold at best price on their behalf.

The energy generated by the solar PV panels in the Orange Community Renewable Energy Park is used to recharge the battery energy storage system and to export through its meters into the electricity network.

Electricity used by members of the Co-operative is delivered via the electricity distribution network though their electricity meters.  The electricity meter measures your electricity use.

Energy Democracy is working towards a digital solution to enable the measurement of a member’s usage over the period of a day, or an hour.

Each parcel of shares owned by members is assigned to one property only.  The invoice will show the usage for that property, including electricity that has been net-metered from the Park and electricity that has been bought to meet the property’s needs.

Energy Democracy is working towards a digital solution to enable the measurement of a member’s usage over the period of a day, or an hour, without the need to install a new digital meter. 

If you have panels on your roof, you can still apply to become  a member.

In this instance, all the production from the member’s solar and battery storage is put directly into the Co-operatives’ common pool.  Surplus generation is then sold collectively and shared amongst the members in proportion to the number of shares they own, after their net-metered allocation and after expenses.

It is important to note that, as an investor, nothing changes in respect of the current electricity provider arrangements for your premises.

No. If you already have solar panels on your roof and join the Co-op, you keep the contract you have with your current electricity retailer. There is no offset from the park on your current invoice.  You simply receive your share of the sale of surplus electricity proportionate to the number of shares you own, after your net-metered allocation and after expenses.

No, you can’t draw down on the battery. 

It’s important to remember that the electricity generated from the park goes into the national grid.  It is not possible to identify the electrons relating to your parcel of shares and feed them directly to your home or business.  Nor is it possible for one property to have more than one electricity retailer supplying it.

We may look at community storage as an option in the future.  We recognise that the grid is transitioning into a local, clean, transactional system and intend to provide options to members to participate in, and benefit from, this transition.

Yes. There are members who want to put all the production from their solar and battery storage directly into the Co-operatives’ common pool.  Surplus generation is then sold collectively and shared amongst the members in proportion to the number of shares they own, after their net-metered allocation and after expenses.  The average payback in that case is estimated at 8 years, providing a return on your investment of up to 12%.

You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve contributed to reducing CO2 emissions each year for the life of the park.

We know that for many people, saving the planet is an economic decision.  The household or small business budget is often stretched as it is, so it will only make sense to invest in renewable energy if there is a return on your investment.

Members have the option of having the energy generated by their shareholding assigned to meet their energy needs through a process of “virtual net-metering”. Recognising there is a difference in energy production and usage in summer and winter, the expected savings on your power bills should be between 15% and 50%.

You can send us your annual energy usage and cost of electricity for us to confirm the estimated benefits here.  Please note, however, that it is an estimate only: returns can be affected by the weather or changes in your household, for example.  The risks of investing are detailed in the disclosure statement.

Any member, be they a household, small business or farmer can purchase more than one parcel to meet their energy needs.  Multiple parcels of shares can be purchased for your SMSF, or for friends and family as an investment.

There is one caveat – under the Co-operative National Law, no-one can own more than 20% of the Co-operative without the permission of the regulator and Co-op board.

In the spirit of co-operatives and under the Co-operative National Law, each member has one vote regardless of the number of shares they own.

The disclosure statement is a regulatory requirement since the Co-operative is raising money from members of the public.  It sets out information one should know before making an investment.

The Energy Democracy Central West NSW Co-operative has registered a disclosure statement with Fair Trading NSW that details the offer, risks, financials, and assumptions.  It is important you read and understand the offer, or seek financial advice before investing in the Co-op.

The easiest thing to do is to fill out the application online. Otherwise, you can download the forms for printing and scanning.

Applications downloaded and filled can be emailed to info@energyd.nzsecure.com. Alternatively you can mail it to our postal address:

Energy Democracy Central West New South Wales Co-operative
60 Hill St
Orange, NSW 2800

Co-operative

A Co-operative is a self-governing association of people, who collectively and voluntarily work together to achieve their agreed common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Co-operatives everywhere operate according to a set of core principles and values that fundamentally put the needs of their members first.

The principles are:

  1. Membership open to all, regardless of background
  2. Democratically controlled by the members for the members, with equal voting rights
  3. Surpluses allocated as agreed by the members
  4. Maintenance of the co-operative’s autonomy and independence, even when they enter into agreements with other organisations
  5. Education and training that allows effective contribution to the co-operative’s aims
  6. Co-operation amongst co-operatives
  7. Concern for the community, demonstrated through a focus on sustainability.

An Energy Democracy Co-operative presents individuals and small businesses a new opportunity to benefit from local renewable energy.

If a person does not have a house or property to put solar on, then there are very few ways they can be involved in generating renewable energy. Until now, people who rent, move frequently or just do not have a roof that is compatible for solar power have been excluded.

As a member of an Energy Democracy Co-operative you can access solar power from panels located in a solar park in your neighbourhood.

We would like to see community-owned energy in every town and city in the country.  Given the scale of the global heating we all face, the pace of change must accelerate. Our challenge is to enable everyone in the community to participate through shared ownership.

Depending on the wishes of the members, the Energy Democracy Co-operatives may be expanded to include other initiatives that benefit the members of the Co-operative.

There are currently Co-operatives forming in every state and territory in Australia, and in New Zealand. The Co-operatives are only open to investments from residents in the locality of the Co-operatives.

If you would like an Energy Democracy Co-operative in your region, or you do not live in Australia, please contact us at info@energyd.nzsecure.com.

Members

Anyone in the state can join the Co-operative.  The Board of the Co-operative will give priority to people applying to join the Co-operative who live locally, and then to those living elsewhere in the state.

Anyone living outside of the state stay tuned, register, and keep watch for a Co-operative near you.  There are many people who have registered interest in joining an Energy Democracy Co-operative. We encourage local ownership as much as possible. The Co-operatives will prioritise allocation of shares to local based members to maximise local ownership.

The Energy Democracy Co-operatives require a minimum level of activity from members. To retain membership, you will need to continue to fulfil active participation requirements which are detailed in the Disclosure Statement for each Co-operative.

The legal liability is limited to the value of shares held by a member.

A registration is non-binding expression of interest with no associated costs. You are not obligated to proceed with investing in an Energy Democracy Co-operative if you have registered. You are not committed to investing until you accept the investment offer detailed in the Disclosure Statement, which is released after a host site for a new solar park has been finalised. Please take the opportunity to read the information available on this website before you register.

You join when you invest in the community solar park and become a member of the co-operative. In addition to your investment amount (*explained later in this document) there is a $275.00 fee for share transaction costs when you become a member.

The easiest way to join an Energy Democracy Co-operative is to download the Disclosure Statement and complete the application forms.  These can be found on our website at https://energydemocracy.net//information/

Energy Democracy is working throughout Australia and New Zealand to deliver community ownership of new renewable energy schemes, so look out for one near you.

You can keep updated on the Co-operatives that are available through our website https://energydemocracy.net/.

As soon as the Disclosure Statement is available for each Co-operative, after being approved by the Regulator, active memberships will be sought.

The constitution allows for joint holders, so applying jointly with your spouse or partner is permitted.

You can join an Energy Democracy Co-operative online on this site.

We strongly advise you to read the Disclosure Statements and gain your own financial advice prior to making an investment decision. The Disclosure Statements contain information about joining a Co-operative.

If you would like to discuss a potential energy Co-operative, or would like someone to speak at an event about sustainable energy, or you would like to visit a solar park, please contact us and let us know your requirements at info@energyd.nzsecure.com

Electricity Sale and Income

The electricity generated in the solar parks is credited to the members of the Co-operatives through a virtual net-metering environment. Surplus electricity can be sold via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
In some instances – mostly rooftop projects – a portion of the electricity generated may be sold directly to the energy user on the property where the solar park is located. They can be confident that their energy is sourced in an environmentally sound manner.

Details of the type of energy contract selected and who the energy customer can be found in the specific Disclosure Statements when each solar park is open for investment.

While summer months produce more energy than winter months, the estimated return in the Disclosure Statement is calculated as an average across the entire project life. Virtual net-metering means any fluctuation in generation is realised in real-time.

Yes, batteries are included in the solar parks.

There is a concerted effort by government and industry to move away from buying carbon offsets or carbon credits, toward a move to explore options closer to home that result in a tangible reduction in CO2-e emissions.

The Co-operatives will sell Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) throughout the life of the program. This means that the ‘green’ portion of the generated electricity will not necessarily be a carbon offset. This could change if the RECs are purchased by a group for the purpose of carbon offsetting.

Governance

A board-designate is required for each Co-operative before it can become legally incorporated. The board-designate is confirmed at the first Annual General Meeting (AGM).

You are encouraged to actively participate in your local Co-operative, so do consider a role on your Co-operative’s board. Please note your interest in your Registration of Interest.

The board-designate is responsible for ensuring the progress of the Co-operative’s plans and activities to minimise the risks. They are answerable to the Co-operative’s members.

We strongly recommend that you undertake your own due diligence prior to joining an Energy Democracy Co-operative.

Financial projections can be found in the Disclosure Statements and are made available once we have finalised plans for each of the solar parks.

Each Energy Democracy Co-operative carries insurance to help manage its risks. Please read the project specific information when it is published in the Disclosure Statements for more on equipment guarantees.

The Co-operatives will sell Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) throughout the life of the program. This means that the ‘green’ portion of the generated electricity will not necessarily be a carbon offset. This could change if the RECs are purchased by a group for the purpose of carbon offsetting.

The solar park will be covered by insurance. The solar panel and inverter equipment manufacturers provide additional guarantees.

Shares

Minimum share subscription is determined for each Co-operative specifically. Download the Disclosure Statement relevant to the Co-operative near you.

Yes, you can apply for shares above the minimum subscription.

Yes. The National Co-operative Law stipulates that the maximum number of shares that one member can own is limited to 20% of the share capital without prior approval from the Co-operative Board and the Regulator.

Members may sell their shares in the community solar park. As with other Co-operatives, to sell a share you must find a willing buyer first. Energy Democracy will facilitate easy transfer of shares by liaising with people who are looking at buying or selling existing shares and keeping a register of interested buyers and sellers.

We intend to incorporate many of these Co-operatives around Australia and New Zealand. That allows Energy Democracy to offer portability – that means a member of a Co-operative can move from their house or commercial premises and Energy Democracy will facilitate the transfer of shares from one Co-operative to another. The members continue to reap the benefits of being a Co-operative member in their new location.

Technology

The Energy Democracy Co-operatives are technology agnostic; we are open to the use of different technology tools as they are developed and prove their worth. Our focus is on commercially proven clean energy generation that presents a lower risk for community investment.

Community energy projects are usually between 0.5MW (500kW) and 5MW. A 500kW solar park occupies one hectare. This could be visualised as a square with sides of 100m each, or the size of the roof of a large warehouse.

The co-op will use the energy generated by solar panels to recharge its storage units and to export through its meters to the electricity network. Electricity used by the co-op members will be delivered via the network through smart meters. The physical electricity that is exported from the solar park is unlikely to be transported specifically to the members – it is impossible to track the flow of electricity through the network.

However, as a community-owned electricity generator, the co-op can assign its exported generation to local co-op members. This is a ‘virtual’ transfer of energy and its value is transferred for billing reconciliation purposes. 

Environmental

Energy payback is the time that it takes a generator to produce as much energy as was used in its construction. This includes the energy in the manufacturing processes and site construction activities. Energy payback for photovoltaic (PV) solar projects in Australia ranges between two (2) and four (4) years.

Panels accumulate small amounts of dust which degrades generation. The maintenance of the solar park includes regular cleaning to maximise return on asset. Very little water will be required during cleaning.

Two reports, ‘The Mount Majura solar park – Glare Analysis’, prepared by CBRE and ‘Solar Glare Aviation Hazard Evaluation Engineering Report’ prepared by Canadian Solar conclude that whilst some level of glare is to be expected from the solar arrays, the impact of this glare to surrounding land users, vehicles or aircraft is ‘low potential’ and not likely to be hazardous.

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