Ranges Energy Cooperative Limited was launched in August 2011. We have about 50 members. One aim is that our plan will enable people who live in flats, people who rent and people whose roof tops are too shaded, to go solar by becoming a co-owner of a solar farm. Another aim is to make going solar affordable. To that end minimum Ranges Energy membership is 100x $1.00 shares.
Ranges Energy came out of talks between Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association and an idea of a local engineer that works in the solar industry. Our structure is similar to that of Hepburn Wind. Both Hepburn and Embark were very helpful in the early days of Ranges Energy.
Since our launch the board of Ranges Energy has met monthly. That time has been spent producing a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)/ lease contract and negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with a large solar company, submitting a tender for a solar system on a council building and identifying our first site.
The latter has proved a challenge. Although there are plenty of great roofs out there it is a bit of a needle in a haystack exercise. It requires a building with the right energy profile and a building owner or occupant with vision and a willingness to think outside the square. They exist but finding them is easier said than done.
Another challenge is set up costs. We have been very reluctant to use member money on things like legal advice on the drafting of a power purchase agreement and publicity costs. However, only so much can be done on volunteer time and using the professional expertise of co-op and board members. Find out more at our website or on our facebook page.