Exciting changes to the Sustainable Communities Fund

14 December 2012

Leading Australian renewable energy company, Pacific Hydro is always looking for ways to increase community involvement and participation. Continuing with this approach the company is changing the way it will allocate its Sustainable Communities Fund by introducing a Fund Allocation Panel. The Panel will draw together members of the local community and Pacific Hydro employees to assess applications and allocate funding.

“We are setting up fund allocation panels at all of our wind farm communities to improve the involvement of the community in the distribution of funds,” said general manager for Australia Mr Lane Crockett.

The process proved successful recently when the inaugural panel was held in Victoria near Pacific Hydro’s Challicum Hills wind farm. The Panel distributed $50,000 worth of grants to 21 local socially and environmentally sustainable community projects.

“We hope that by rolling the panels out to all communities we will improve the process of allocating funding and that we can eventually, in line with best-practice grant allocation, hand over the decision making process entirely to the community,” said Mr Crockett.

Fund allocation panels will be made up of four members of the community and three Pacific Hydro staff who are not normally involved in community-related activities. These positions will rotate annually. The wind farm site supervisor and a council representative(s) will also be included. The Panel is facilitated by Pacific Hydro’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Chloe Carpenter who also acts as chair.

Apart from the Council representative(s) and the wind farm site supervisor, all other voting members will need to apply to sit on the panel.

“We’re always looking at ways we can better engage with our host communities and this process empowers the community by giving them greater ownership of the grant program,” added Mr Crockett.

Community panel members who recently sat on the Challicum Hills Sustainable Communities Fund panel found the allocation process enlightening.

“It’s certainly given me insight into how difficult it is to allocate the funding as all the applications were worthy!” said community participant, Amanda Kumnick.

Pacific Hydro’s manager, Electrical Engineering, Kate Summers, agrees. “I went in there with an idea of what should be funded but discussions and additional information that came from the other panel members really helped me understand the priorities in the community.”

John Box, community participant, thought the diverse range of people sitting on the panel was helpful. “It was great having a council [representative] on the panel to say well we can find funding for that project so you can allocate money to another project.”

Community members interested in sitting on the Fund Allocation Panel are encouraged to contact Chloe Carpenter via 03 8621 6428 or community@pacifichydro.com.au.