Potential Junee Shire Microgrids

Working Paper IconPotential Junee Shire Microgrids
A discussion paper
by Junee Community Power
Released November 2018

Executive summary

Junee Community Power is advocating that all levels of government (state, federal, and local) help investigate the best way to start evaluating microgrids in the Junee Shire to help minimise social inequality(1,2), the transition to renewable solar PV (electricity) production and help boost the financial resilience of this rural community which is currently in drought.

What is a microgrid and how does it work and what benefits can it provide?

A microgrid links local electricity generation sources, such as rooftop solar photovoltaics, with local electricity users. For example, the excess electricity generated by a solar installation on a local business or school can be used by other premises nearby.

This is different from what happens now in that any excess electricity is sent to the main grid. The microgrid allows the excess electricity to be traded locally. Part of the setup of the microgrid is a software system that can measure excess electricity generated by one premise and electricity used by other premises on the microgrid.

The microgrid is still connected to the main grid which acts as a big battery when the microgrid cannot produce enough electricity itself on cloudy days or at night.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has estimated that the extensive integration of ‘distributed energy resources’ (DER) could save consumers nearly $4 billion by 2030(3). Microgrids are just a type of distributed energy resource.

Junee Community Power Inc will:

  • advocate for state and federal representatives for the introduction of microgrids in rural NSW to help overcome rural disadvantage and grid constraints due to solar PV uptake on households
  • make representations to the following with a view to advocating for the introduction of microgrids in rural NSW:
    • Junee Shire Council
    • Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC)
    • NSW Environment Minister
    • Steph Cooke MP, Member for Cootamundra
    • Hon Michael McCormack MP, Member for Riverina
    • Essential Energy
    • Rural Development Australia (RDA) Riverina
  • make contact with similar community organisations such as Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) (Vic)(4) and Enova (NSW)(5) to jointly advocate for microgrids in rural NSW.
Think Big: Go Micro
Think Big: Go Micro

This ground-breaking project aims to:

  • Reduce carbon emissions through increased use of renewables
  • Lower your power bills
  • Keep money local. Instead of spending money outside the region, dollars stay circulating in your community, providing jobs, and helping fund local initiatives


Microgrids have the ability to greatly assist a community via the use of solar PV (solar panels that produce electricity), batteries and demand management(6). These include:

  1. Economic benefit:
    By reducing the amount of money sent out of the community, it helps make the community more financially resilient. This is particularly relevant in times of economic stress eg drought, economic down turns, rising energy costs, households on low incomes(7), etc. Every dollar that can be saved and spent in the local community has an economic benefit of three dollars for the community.
    One million saved and spent in the community is a three-million-dollar boost to the local economy.
  2. Social benefit:
    Microgrids enable the community to look after the whole community within the grid even if not all households can install solar PV/ batteries on their own roof tops. They may not be able to participate eg. low income households, renters, have shading issues, heritage issues, etc.
    It is essential to ensure no individuals, businesses or community organisations are left behind and disadvantaged by the transition to the new grid. Junee has the fifth highest electricity disconnection rate in NSW, according to a St Vincent de Paul report(8).
  3. Power security benefit:
    Over time as the microgrids solar PV/battery/demand management capabilities increase, it will enable the micro grid to continue operating for a time if the grid supply is interrupted eg storms, fires, accidental damage etc. In addition, battery usage plus demand management capabilities will enable the microgrid to respond to the larger grid’s needs for additional electricity as required.
  4. Generation security:
    As more decentralised power production is installed (in Junee’s case this will be solar PV) this helps reduce demand from large centralized power stations. This decentralised electricity production helps increase power supply from multiple sources reducing the risk of outages and helps increase generation security locally. Decentralized power production generally is produced closer to the point of use, thus reducing energy loss in transmission which can be as high 10% from centralized generators.
    The rate of solar PV installations on households is currently around 6.5 solar PV panels every minute across Australia. In places the grid is having to limit the number of households who can install solar PV on their homes. It is not fair on those who come later and are not allowed to install rooftop solar on them. Similarly, on sunny days household solar installation can produce more power than the demand on the system. Thus, the need for projects like Snowy Hydro #2 pumped hydro and the Tasmanian pumped hydro projects which can help store the excess power. However, these projects will not be operational for a number of years. Construction of microgrids however only take months and can target local areas of grid constraint. Similarly, microgrids with batteries can help store this excess power during the middle of the day for use during high demand times, either in homes or in businesses on the microgrid or it may be used by the grid itself if needed.
  5. Community education and empowerment:
    Microgrid establishment will involve far greater community involvement in its implementation and management. This process will require the development of community educational resources to help take the whole community on the transition and foster trust in the process.
    Junee Community Power Inc and the Empower Project (Ref 2 & 3) with Junee High school are having great success in this regard in promoting energy efficiency, in particular with our senior citizens, and are now being aided by the Junee Community Centre. Both the Senior Citizens Hall and the Junee Community Centre Hall (old CWA Hall) are in the process of being set up as community educational resources to demonstrate energy efficiency, solar PV and monitoring (of electricity use and generation and temperatures in the buildings). Junee secondary and primary students will be able to use both halls as learning laboratories to assist their studies and inform our community (Ref 4).

Potential microgrids

Junee CBD
This would be an ideal microgrid as it includes both business and community assets that would be an ideal place for a community battery to use and store excess solar power.

Currently a number of businesses already have solar PV installations and a number have sophisticated demand management systems and have under gone energy efficiency upgrades. IGA, Red Cow Hotel, Ex-services club, Junee Medical Centre, Junee Motor Inn, T-Line Steel Fabrications.

There may now be additional businesses with solar PV in this precinct.

Community assets
Broadway Museum – no solar PV – is suffering from high electricity bills

Athenium Theatre – no solar PV – great roof for solar PV but limited day time use of electricity

Lawson House (independent aged units) – no solar PV – ideal roof for solar PV

Hospital/Ambulance Station – no solar PV or battery – ideal roof for solar PV

Broadway and Junction street residential precinct
This area would be a natural extension of the CBD and could feed excess day time solar into the CBD and hospital.

Junee Primary School, Community Centre Hall and the Junee Aquatic Centre
None of these buildings currently have solar PV. If the Primary School and Junee Community Centre Hall had it installed, their excess power on weekends and during school holidays could be utilised by the Aquatic centre which is open some 360 plus days a year.

The four Junee Shire villages
Illabo and Urangilly – both have primary schools
Old Junee, Wantabadgery

Single Wire Earth Returns
Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) – “the network equivalent of an extension cord draped across paddocks” TRY Yackandandah(8).

Single wire properties usually in rural areas and can be subject to brown outs and black outs and a microgrid greatly enhances their security and reliability. Victoria and WA both have mini grid trials on SWER lines.

Potential major triggers to stimulate microgrid development

  1. Political decisions to install more solar panels
    This could trigger the need to look at alternatives for excess power storage and management. In Victoria in the lead up to the November 2018 state election, the government has promised to fund 650,000 solar installation over 10 years. Each household gets $4550 upfront with 50% repayable interest free over 4 years.
  2. Local shire council revolving fund for solar PV and batteries.
    The Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc. (CORENA) has proposed that all local councils set one up to help their communities get solar PV(9).
    CORENA has been running a revolving interest free loan model for solar installations for five years on community buildings. It has proven that this model is highly effective and repeatable and becomes a very sustainable model once established. Thus, often referred to as Perpetual Funds by community power groups.
    If Junee Shire Council chooses to adopt such a model the need to coordinate such an installation in the town and villages will be a major challenge for the Essential Energy and the community going forward as it greatly increase the number of solar PV installations across the community.

Key players to be consulted and brought on the journey

  • Essential Energy
  • Junee Shire Council
  • Junee Business and Trades
  • Junee Hospital – Murrumbidgee Local Health
  • Department of School Education
  • NSW Environment and Heritage
  • Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC)
  • Rural Development Australia (RDA) Riverina

Background articles to give a brief overview

C4CE webinar – Revolving Funds Rock!
20 minutes into the program is the session for local councils. The first twenty minutes is excellent back ground in how revolving funds work and why they are so powerful as funding tools.

watch »

ABC Science show 10th November 2018
Allison Crook from Enova showing the way forward for regional Australia. An amazing businesses woman.

read »

Junee Community Power Report Oct 2018 Energy Efficiency

RENEW Magazine Issue 145 Oct-Dec 2018 P26-28 Energy Efficiency

read »

Empower Project Junee High School

visit »

Junee Community Power Inc. Energy Efficiency

Senior Citizens and Junee Community Centre Halls energy efficiency program 2018-1


  1. Audrey Zibelman CEO of the Australia Energy Market Operator (AEMO) at the ANU Energy Update Forum Nov 2017 advised Junee Community Power Inc to start conversations with Essential Energy about establishing a microgrid in Junee.
  2. Households in the dark – St Vincent de Paul report
  3. AEMO 2018 Integrated System Plan, p.44 and Section 5, in particular p. 66 & p. 77
  4. Totally Renewable Yackandandah – Third Microgrid
  5. ENOVA’s microgrid at Byron Bay
  6. AEMO Integrated System Plan P44, Section 5, in particular 5.3 P66 &77
  7. Households in the dark – St Vincent de Paul report
  8. Totally Renewable Yackandandah – Third Microgrid
  9. C4CE Webinar 2018 Revolving Funds Rock 6th Nov 2018 20-40min