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Submission to VicGrid’s draft Renewable Energy Zones Community Benefit Plan

RE-Alliance has been engaged in renewable energy, social licence and benefit sharing policy discussions in Victoria for over ten years. In the last two years, this has included several consultations on the development of the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework (VTIF) and establishment of VicGrid. In this submission, we respond to VicGrid’s draft approach to community benefit sharing for Victoria’s Renewable Energy Zones (REZs). 

We know that new transmission is the lynchpin for getting new renewable generation into the grid – so VicGrid's dedicated attention on coordinating new transmission, engaging with communities and designing new legislation to underpin Renewable Energy Zones is critical. 

VicGrid has a good underlying framework and has done some progressive, early work to engage with, learn from and listen to Victoria’s regional and rural communities, environment groups, Traditional Owners and First Nations groups and community organisations. 

In our response, we urge the Government to ensure that VicGrid’s good, early work is not diluted or diminished in the approach to Victoria’s REZs and benefit sharing. That requires a number of minor adjustments to the language and approach - outlined in our full submission - emphasising the critical importance of place-based dialogue and ongoing engagement and partnerships with communities.  

To further improve on the draft, RE-Alliance has recommended that VicGrid develop the REZ Foundations concept and adopt our recommendations on benefit sharing, addressing cumulative impacts and issues, and in developing the legislation for Victoria’s Renewable Energy Zones.  


Benefit sharing

  • Establish a place-based engagement initiative across each region, now, which will inform the design and approach to project, pooled-multi project and/or regional benefit sharing funds. 
  • Ensure that project-based benefit sharing remains an option for developers.
  • Carefully consider how the approach to benefit sharing will affect project developers options for benefit sharing innovation and use this to inform refinement of regional and shared benefit arrangements. 
  • Ensure the REZ framework encourages developers to pool funding where they are in close proximity to each other. 
  • Consider phased options for project benefit sharing funds and pooled funding – this could be structured such that projects provide funds locally for the first five years and then go into a regional pooled fund, or there are specified splits for both. 
  • Establish REZ Foundations with time-based settings for particular funding streams and clarity that vests final decision-making authority with VicGrid.

Addressing cumulative impacts and issues

  • Specifically address cumulative build and coordination concerns through collaboration with communities, business and economic development groups, developers, networks and Councils to identify win-win solutions which can be delivered or enabled via VicGrid.

Development of Renewable Energy Zone regions, framework and legislation

  • Extend and deepen engagement, through ongoing, deeper locally led discourse and through partnerships with local organisation and communities.
  • Provide opportunities for communities including First Nations groups and Traditional Owners, to be able to inform the geographic boundaries and self-identify areas of significance.
  • A REZ should be announced as proposed well before its final shape is then confirmed as determined by the state.

Read more in our full submission.

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