If like me, when watching the Athletics at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, you could not help but let your mind wander to March 2026 and get a little excited to think the next time we see this, it will be in Ballarat!
So many of our conversations currently are focused on the opportunity the Commonwealth Games present for our region. You can read the details of the Committee for Ballarat Position Paper, recently submitted to the Office of the Commonwealth Games, Here. With the official hand over of the Games from Birmingham to Victoria, the planning will now accelerate. Committee looks forward to making our contribution and we will work in collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure the Games are a success and provide an enduring legacy.
Energy has recently been at the centre of many conversations in recent months. We have all been challenged by rising costs and uncertainty of demand, with a critical point in July coming when the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) seized control of the east coast energy market. The action was to avoid both blackouts and load shedding as the demand for energy soared and was an acknowledgment the energy market had effectively failed.
With a broader debate regarding the transition to renewable energy, we need also to transition to a new National Energy Market that can accommodate the massive potential of multiple generation assets located all around the country, such as the wind generation capacity that continues to grow, in the Central Highlands.
Committee has been working with a number of members and partners to scope the viability and feasibility of a Ballarat Energy Network (BEN – working title only). The BEN aims to be the first locally owned and operated energy network, utilising 100% locally generated renewable energy to power an Australian Regional City with more than 100,000 people.
The BEN will be a community energy hub ‘at scale’ and will continue the evolution and development of a decentralised, distributed energy network. These networks will need to be part of the solution in an evolved NEM where renewables are the source of our energy generation.
Recently, Committee submitted an application for funding to the State Government New Energy Jobs Fund to develop a full Business Case for the BEN, that will assess the technical and commercial viability of such a model.
Simon Coutts, from Grantus worked with us to identify the appropriate grant and prepare our submission. A successful outcome will result in the development of a business case that may mark the beginning of a model for distributed energy for our region that will maximise the opportunity of our locally generated renewable energy; ensure greater certainty in supply; reduce costs to business, industry and the community; take carbon out of the atmosphere. Watch this space!