Find out about Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE)


C.O.R.E! Community Owned Renewable Energy
Expert panel discussion with Q&A

Sustaining the Williams Valley Inc and the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub are pleased to present a FREE event for National Science Week.

Saturday 11 August, 3–5pm at the James Theatre Dungog

Many communities around Australia are realising the opportunities of localised power generation and distribution to benefit their communities.  CORE is a way for communities to come together to initiate, develop, operate, own and benefit from their own renewable energy projects.

A panel of experts has been invited to present to the community:
  • Jarra Hicks of Community Power Agency
  • David Marston of Energise Gloucester
  • Sandi Middleton of Enova Community Energy

will explain what CORE is, why now and could it be part of Dungog’s energy future.  MC for the event will be Christopher Saunders, General Manager of Renew Newcastle.

Community Power Agency define CORE as a concept developed in response to the fundamental challenges of climate change, regional economic development, energy access and affordability.  It presents an opportunity for communities across Australia, particularly in regional areas, to create a steady income stream to fund community development projects over the next 25+ years.

The panel will use examples of existing projects to discuss the concept, the environmental, social, economic, technological and political benefits that can result.  We will explore the hurdles that may need to be overcome and share information on where additional help can be sourced should communities in the Dungog region wish to undertake such a project.

Some of the community benefits that have been attributed to CORE projects include • Local ownership and decision making • Community building and empowerment • Renewable energy education and training • Renewable energy industry development • Energy self sufficiency • Regional development and income diversification • Community assets • Local jobs • Shareholder income • Community income • GHG emissions reduction • Increase in environmental values and behaviour.


Jarra Hicks, Community Power Agency

Jarra has a professional background in community development, campaigning and renewable energy.  She studied Development Studies at the University of Newcastle and in 2009 completed Honours research that focused on grassroots renewable energy projects as effective responses to climate change using innovative economic practices.  She is a co-founder and Director of the Community Power Agency, motivated by the power that everyday people are engaging to make real contributions to the sustainability of their communities.  Jarra spent two years as the Project Coordinator of Mount Alexander Community Wind in Central Victoria.  She has also co-founded and worked for a range of community organisations and social enterprises, from food to energy, advocacy to banking and, most recently, helped to found the Coalition for Community Energy.  In 2010, 2012 and 2015 Jarra completed study tours of community renewable energy initiatives in North America and Europe and spent time as a volunteer renewable energy policy advisor in Delhi, India.

Jarra is also currently a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales.  She is researching the potential for community energy projects to contribute positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for regional communities in Australia.  Her research focuses on community engagement, social enterprise models and diverse economic arrangements that community energy projects use.

Sandi Middleton, Enova Community Energy

Sandi has over 18 years of expertise in sustainability, leadership development, community engagement, strategic foresight, program design and delivery, professional coaching and organisational capacity building. She has a strong background in energy efficiency and behaviour change and is a dynamic and skilled operator across all sectors of community, ngo, government and business.

Her recent positions include QLD Regional Leader of the National Energy Efficiency Network, NSW Regional Manager of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, Byron Shire Council Sustainability Officer and Director of Sandi Middleton Consulting. Sandi is a Board Director for The Next Economy and With Nature organisations.

In her current role at Enova Community, she manages staff, consultants and a team of volunteers to deliver energy efficiency and renewable energy education and projects that benefit the whole of the community.

David Marston, Energise Gloucester

David Marston is well qualified and experienced in the areas of Integrated Natural Resource Management, Natural Resource Policy, Catchment Management, Agricultural Development, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation, Community Participation and Consultation, Training and Education.  He has worked with relevant community and agency stakeholders to plan project activities, setting objectives and monitoring performance.  David has 40 years’ experience in the design and management of research and development projects for a systems approach, working with multidisciplinary teams combining production and conservation objectives for crop, pasture, agroforestry for rainfed and irrigated areas.  He has lead and participated in public and private sector projects that have operated in many Australian states and internationally across a wide range of land, water and energy resource situations.  David is the Chair of Energise Gloucester.

Christopher Saunders

Christopher has worked as a Creative Producer for 20 years with national arts and social change organisation, Big hART.  This work has involved diverse communities and individuals around Australia in participatory arts practice.

His most publicised work is with the Northcott Public Housing community in Sydney.  Here he produced the site-specific performance event StickybrickS and photographic exhibition tenant by tenant for the 2006 Sydney Festival as well as the ABC TV documentary 900 Neighbours.  He was instrumental in facilitating the World Health Organisation’s Accreditation for Northcott as a Safe Community in 2007.

Christopher moved with his family to Newcastle in 2011 and worked as the producer and project manager for the Regal Cinema restoration and re-imagination in Birmingham Gardens which was officially re-opened in early 2014.

He is currently the chair of Tantrum Youth Arts.

Christopher began at Renew Newcastle as Property Manager in 2012.  He has delivered Project Support Services and carpentry expertise including The Emporium fit out.  He was promoted to General Manager in September 2014.