Nick Xenophon announces energy co-op to lower SA power bills

  • Written by Erin Clare

An exciting plan to lower power prices using the co-operative model of community electricity trusts has been announced by SA BEST leader Nick Xenophon.


“The co-operative model has an internationally proven track record for delivering services,” said Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals CEO Melina Morrison.


“The co-operative energy model is already being deployed in countries around the world, including the USA, Germany and Denmark.”


The Senator-turned-candidate for SA State Premier is proposing to use the internationally proven co-operative business model to lower SA power prices by 20%.


“The collective purchasing power created by this structure returns power back to the people,” said Ms Morrison.


To be named the Community Electricity Trust of SA (cETSA), the co-operative retailer will be able to tender to develop a new 150mW renewable energy power plant.


According to SA BEST up to 50,000 lower-income households and up to 5000 small businesses would be part of the co-op, and power prices for those members would come down by 20 per cent.


“Nick Xenophon has been a long-time champion of co-operative and mutual enterprises – the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals is confident this won’t be the last creative solution to SA’s problems using the co-op and mutual model from SA BEST.”


Best practice energy co-operatives


In Australia and internationally, pioneers are adopting the member-owned approach to power generation.


Victoria’s Hepburn Shire’s Hepburn Wind has built a community-owned 4.1MW windfarm – enough to power about 2,300 households.


The UK’s Co-operative Energy, part of the Midcounties Co-operative Group, which successfully took on all 160,000 customers of the collapsed former generator, has pledged to obtain at least 75 per cent of its power from renewable sources. 


In the US, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which represents the interests of more than 900 power generators and supplies 12% of the nation's population.


The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) is the national peak body representing Australian member owned businesses. Formed in 2013, the BCCM is led by the chief executives of Australia’s co-operative and mutual businesses in all sectors including agriculture, financial services, health insurance, retail, motoring services and human services. The BCCM works to promote the role of member-owned enterprises in the national economy. With over 2000 co-operative and mutual businesses operating nationally representing a total of 29 million memberships, the BCCM highlights the contribution co-operatives and mutuals make to economic and social development in Australia.


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