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The Solar Harvest Community Energy Co-operative has been borne out of the reality that things are changing dramatically in the electricity supply arena. The technologies that produce and deliver electricity to our homes and businesses are changing rapidly. Power grids designed for a one way, predictable flow over long distances from centralised power stations to consumers now have to cope with variable flows in both directions as variable power production from large and small photovoltaic systems and wind turbines push energy into the grid at many locations.
New technologies usually lead to new opportunities. The novel problems thrown up by the growth in variable power sources are being met with novel solutions: battery and other forms of storage; demand management controlled remotely to prevent the whole grid being overloaded; household and industrial scale devices to enable trading electricity and monitoring real-time power use and production.
Solar Harvest recognises the opportunity to involve local community members to actively participate in the production of electrical power and to ensure that they have a say in its distribution.
Values and Principles
Solar Harvest Community Energy Co-operative will
- work towards ensuring equity and fairness in energy access
- engage the community in the energy revolution that is already underway
- will become a trusted source of impartial information on energy technologies
- will take advantage of innovation for the benefit of the community
- and enable the community to ‘connect’ with energy issues as they develop.
Solar Harvest Community Energy Co-operative intends to be known within the local community as
- providing an ideal investment vehicle for clean energy investment
- effective outcomes
- working for the common good
- supportive of other community energy projects
It is expected that members of Solar Harvest will share many of the following motivations:
- having a passion for community involvement and enabling community change from within
- happy to be innovative and entrepreneurial
- wanting change for the sake of our communities’ future well-being
- seeing the decentralisation of the energy industry
- empowering people to have a say on their energy future
- providing a vehicle for local people to invest in renewable energy
- caring for the planet and sensing an urgency for change
Meet our Board
Jane McNicholl MVB, PhD
Jane has worked in a range of rural veterinary practices, enabling her to gain a thorough understanding of the challenges facing small to medium businesses. She served for two years on the Veterinary Surgeons Board of SA (which regulates and oversees professional standards) and 8 years as a member of the PIRSA Animal Ethics Committee, both of which roles demanded probity and diligence. On her own farm, she embraces sustainable practices to support the environment whilst still producing food. She has an in-depth appreciation of the effects of increasing global temperatures, having in 2016, completed a PhD investigating the influence of environmental temperature on athletic dogs. She believes widespread action to reduce global warming is essential, to avert catastrophic environmental changes.
Phillip Schmaal MBA, Dip CM, FCIS, MAICD, FGIA, FIPA, FFA
Advisor to the Board
Phil has chaired the Board Designate during the pre-formation stage of the organisation. He has agreed to remain and act as an advisor to the board in its initial stages post-formation.
Phil gained extensive business experience working in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in a broad range of public, private and community sector organisations, both at senior management and at board level. He returned to the Barossa Valley in 2007 to take up the role of Chief Executive Officer of aged care provider Barossa Village Inc. and retired from that role in April 2017. With a twenty year history of involvement in the community services sector, Phil has held Board positions with the Mental Health Law Centre WA Inc, Greening Australia Ltd, Aged & Community Services SA/NT Inc and the Public Health Association of Australia Inc. Phil was a member of the Barossa Co-op board from April 2011 through August 2019, and served as Chairman of Directors from November 2013 till August 2018.
Rachel Brdanovic BSc, M Sustainability
For the past ten years, Rachel has managed her own energy consulting business, Tandem Energy, in partnership with her husband Tom. She holds a Master of Sustainability and is also a Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP),
Rachel is currently on the steering committee for Transition Gawler and has previously served as chair and secretary for her children’s school and child care governing councils.
Rachel has been passionate about creating change since she was a teenaged check-out chick educating her customers about the risks of using CFC-powered aerosols! With energy as her professional area of expertise, becoming involved in a community energy co-operative was a natural progression.
He has always maintained a keen interest in the environment and sustainable practices and was a fairly early adopter of solar hot water and photovoltaic panels to help to reduce his carbon footprint.
Brian Phillips BSc, Dip Ed, BD, DMin., MSc
Brian, throughout his working life and beyond, has been involved in local community groups and enterprises in Australia and in the UK. He served as a Director on the Boards of Uniting
Communities (Finance and Policy Committees) and Foundation Barossa (Secretary) for a total of 16 years. He has had an interest in the science of climate change, its human impacts and alternative energy systems for many years. Since retiring, he has completed an MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development. He believes a community energy cooperative presents an opportunity to build community resilience and directly benefit community organisations and small and medium size businesses by mobilising local capital to return benefits to local people.
For the past 10 years Sam has worked as a mentor/advisor to small and medium sized business enterprises, including start-up businesses, helping them to build their businesses and take them to the next level.
He is particularly interested in community based social enterprises and the use of cooperatives and mutuals as the best organisation structure to further the aims of ‘for purpose’ organisations.
Current positions are Chair of MOBO Group providing employment for people with a mental disability and Director of TAFE SA.
Daniel Harris BCompInfSc, MBA
Dan has worked in the for-purpose/not-for-profit sector for 15 years in various executive, governance, customer relationship, and information systems roles. In completing his Master of Business Administration he pursued electives in sustainability, and venture capital, developing an appreciation for complex systems. Always a keen gardener he left paid employment at the beginning of 2020 to develop a sustainable and holistic household for his family and community, and is developing a shared permaculture garden with a neighbour. He believes activism at a local level will achieve long term change and that co-operative energy investment is an essential part of this.
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