New community owned energy retailer, Northern Rivers Energy, impresses with vision

community solar

Sick of AGL, Origin and their greedy bedfellows? Then start your own retailer!

Fans of community energy got a boost this week with news of plans to launch the country’s first community owned energy retailer. Based in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, a consortium of citizens under the name of Northern Rivers Energy (NRE) has “…won a $54,000 grant to develop a business plan and conduct a feasibility study,” according to RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson.

The plan shows again how community-based renewable energy such as solar power can be accessed and owned by the community.

A quick look at the consortium’s website shows that they are committed to providing a range of benefits for the Northern Rivers community. Not only offering alternatives for homes, businesses and schools to current energy systems but also providing employment and investment opportunities in this growing sector. As well as energy retailing, NRE aims to finance rooftop solar, manage renewable assets, run an educational campaign, create jobs and (crucially) provide access to and maintain storage technology.

NRE spokesperson Alison Crook told RenewEconomy the Northern Rivers region was an excellent fit for their needs.

“Here in the Northern Rivers we have all the ingredients necessary to demonstrate that communities can meet their energy needs without relying on fossil fuels and can live in greater harmony with the environment, and still flourish.”

The NRE consortium shows that there is a future for a community owned energy retailer, particularly in regional areas where cost to transfer grid energy is high. A 16th September UTS article points out that, although community energy is still in its infancy in Australia, the momentum from both regional and urban communities is such that it will become an important factor in the country’s future energy mix.

“Individual projects might be small but they can be replicated across many communities and their influence ripples through the community and eventually influences policy and regulations,” said Nicky Ison, a senior research consultant for the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The breadth of the new community owned energy retailer in the Northern Rivers is an example of the grassroots generated appeal. The vision is wide, detailed and offers renewable energy at every socio-economic level. Full details can be accessed from their website and we encourage you to sign up for updates if you live in the region or are curious about community energy.


  1. If someone were going to go to those lengths, one might suggest that mini-hydro power would be a far better option than solar panels. The Northern Rivers region is…er, awash with small waterways, and with correct sizing (and operation) you could get away from batteries altogether.

  2. ps. and in fact some of the waterways come down such a steep incline (Eastern slopes of the Range) that one could even have a number of generators in close succession. I know of at least one creek on which one could set up mini-hyro plants every couple of hundred meters, in some places.

  3. Rich Bowden says

    Thanks for your excellent comment Jason. Perhaps a combination of the two renewable sources?

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