This Strategic Initiative of the C4CE is a project primarily funded by the Consumer Advocacy Panel, managed by the Total Environment Centre and undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS. The Steering Group also includes the Alternative Technology Association and Sustainable Regional Australia. The City of Sydney is a key project partner.
Currently community energy projects are only viable if they are large scale and compete on the wholesale market (such as Hepburn Wind), or if they operate ‘behind the meter’ (such as community solar on commercial sites), attracting close to retail value for their generated energy. This restricts projects to specific sites with sufficient available load, and limits the opportunities for CE projects to sell energy to their members.
Virtual Net Metering (VNM) is a proposed arrangement that would overcome this barrier by allowing distributed generators to assign their ‘exported’ electricity generation to other nearby sites. In doing so it would provide distributed community energy projects with a fair price for the energy they generate and export to the grid. The project involves the identification and development of specific methodologies to value the contribution of local exports to the electricity grid, underpinned by the principles of cost and value reflectivity. The ultimate goal of the three-stage project is the development of a Rule Change Proposal to allow VNM on public electricity grids, which would see appropriate charging for local use of the system, and a new business model for electricity networks into the future.
Status: The first two stages of investigating VNM have been completed. ISF currently has funding from ARENA to undertake further research, including undertaking trials in five locations. However, this is not a Strategic Initiative of C4CE, though a C4CE representative sits on the reference group.
Initiative lead: Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney
Initiative funder: City of Sydney, Total Environment Centre, Consumer Advocacy Panel
Contact details: for more information contact Edward Langham on Edward.Langham@uts.edu.au, 02 9514 4971.