Farmers and regional communities could have the opportunity to invest in all nearby renewable energy projects, under a new proposal.

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines put forward legislation to establish a new agency with dedicated funds to drive local ownership of new renewable energy projects., with the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy agreeing to an inquiry into her Australian Local Power Agency (ALPA) Bill 2021.

Under the plan, a new Australian Local Power Agency would support regional communities to develop and invest in their own renewable energy projects – all large-scale renewable projects  must offer local residents a chance to invest in them.

There would also be additional forms of financial support including grants, with hubs of local experts to help developed to help support the community-driven projects.

“The idea behind ALPA is simple: every electron generated in the regions should be money coming back into the pockets of everyday regional people,” she said.

“Every spin of a wind turbine and every drop of sunlight should be generating income that stays in our communities.”

A photoghaph of Helen Haines who is launching the renewable energy project

Helen Haines

Dr Haines said the move would be a massive step forward for regional Australia.

“Here in the regions we can see renewables getting built at lightning pace – but we’re not seeing enough local jobs, we’re not seeing enough local procurement and we’re seeing all the profits flow to the cities, rather than staying here where they are generated,” she said.

Dr Haines said brining the renewable energy boom to regional Australia would help everyone on the political spectrum.

“Members of both parties recognise that the trend towards renewables is unstoppable, and yet there is a deadlock right now on energy policy. I’m offering ALPA as an idea for both parties to consider as a way we might move forward on this vexed issue,” she said.

“Agreeing to hold this inquiry shows there is a willingness to hear fresh ideas and I think an appetite for leadership in this space.”

The inquiry will invite submissions from the public and will hold open hearings before making recommendations to government.

More information about how to participate in the inquiry will be published at a later date.