Affordable, ethical electricity that supports our local economy? … Enova Energy!
Terania Times : Annie Kia | 14 Feb 2018 Our effort to get rid of the 14 gas licences that covered our region is one of the great stories of community power. Now another exciting type of community power is within our grasp… affordable, ethical electricity. To achieve this, all we need is for more people to switch to our very own local retailer… Enova Energy. Enova is Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer, based in the Northern Rivers. Its groundbreaking model is designed to meet our needs, rather than the needs of the huge profit-hungry companies that have driven up costs via their stranglehold. Enova has gained attention round the country, and won the NSW Green Globe Award.
What makes it different?
Enova Energy is a community-owned electricity provider. It’s a social enterprise that keeps your money circulating in our local economy (currently $300m from domestic power bills gets siphoned off outside our region).
Enova has two arms: the retail arm, and the non profit community arm.
Annie Kia is Community Empowerment Coordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance. She developed the Gasfield Free Community Strategy that went viral in the Northern Rivers. This grass-roots democracy process is now empowering communities in other regions to resist invasive gasfields and coal. Across Australia, more than 450 communities have declared themselves Gasfield Free or Coal Free.
“When people realise their collective intelligence and power, it’s exhilarating.” – Annie Kia
Enova Energises Local Expo Lismore Echo
Lismore Echo : Sophie Moeller | 14 Feb 2018
ENOVA Community Energy is on a mission to have the region generating its own power to become self sufficient.
Only then can the price of renewable power come down, says the chair of Enova Community Energy, Alison Crook.
The community owned energy company, which started in the Northern Rivers two years ago, has already signed up 4000 clients.
“The aim is to get to 7500 clients by the end of the year to break even,” says Ms Crook.
Only then will the region be able to generate its own power and rely less on the big transmission lines from outside,” she says.
To raise awareness, Enova is running a free Energy Expo at Lismore City Hall on February 22 from 5.30-7pm.
The aim of the Expo is to:
Present energy saving tips and information about renewable energy
Give free Energy Consultation – those attending are welcome to bring along your latest electricity bill to learn how to save
Provide a a mini Solar and Battery Expo – all you need to know about solar
Manager of Enova’s not-for-profit arm, Enova Community, Sandi Middleton, says:”We want people to walk away from the evening with advice and information that is easy to apply at home or in the workplace, and which will deliver savings to their energy bill and make a difference to the way they power their lives.”
Enova Community Energy is owned by locals to give investors an alternative to the big energy companies.
Their mission is to put ‘people before profits’ and the company’s charter dictates that 50% of all returns are reinvested into the community to develop renewable energy sources, including solar.
The company recently won Best of The Best Regional Sustainability Award by helping locals access concessions to their energy bills.
Leading the Way – Enova Community Energy Becomes a Renewable Generator
Community-owned renewable retailer, Enova Energy breaks new ground with the news it is becoming a solar energy generator.
“The future is here,” says Enova Community Energy MD Tony Pfeiffer. “Fossil fuels are on the way out and complete reliance on large-scale energy generation will not be far behind. The future is all about community generated and consumed renewable energy and Enova is making that possible right here, right now, beginning in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.”
“Enova’s vision to produce enough renewable energy to meet all of our customers’ needs is being realised earlier than originally planned. Everyone can now join the energy revolution, even if they don’t have solar.” explains Tony.
To provide renewable energy to our customers, Enova will purchase community generated renewable energy sourced from rooftop solar from its customers, as well as through solar farms and gardens. Special solar projects such as the new 18-kilowatt system on its own office rooftop in Byron Bay, NSW, are underway. Using solar supplies such as these, Enova can now supply community generated renewable energy to people who don’t own their own solar panels. Enova can meet approximately 40% of existing user requirements with this community generated renewable energy.
If you’re living in an apartment, or you’re renting, or perhaps can’t afford the initial upfront investment in solar panels, then you can still join the solar revolution by offsetting your electricity use with an option to purchase 100% community generated renewable energy. And so, Enova’s community of customers are supporting those who want solar energy but can’t generate it themselves.
This is a pioneering initiative that’s changing the way energy is supplied in Australia. All around the world, countries are moving to ‘local’ supply models like this. Very few Australian communities have embarked on this – Enova’s community is one of the first! Enova will continue to offer more choices for its customers and is planning to push the boundaries using innovations and alternatives such as microgrid, virtual metering, and peer to peer supply.
To access this community generated renewable energy, Enova is introducing new energy plans in the coming days. Under the new plans, customers will be able to choose Enova’s 100% Community Renewable Energy, GreenPower 100, and continue to support Enova’s Renewable Development Initiative (RDI) which supports our community energy projects.
The strength of the commitment from our community and customers to ensure this happens is palpable, and with its support, Enova has forged ahead with growth and expansion, even in the face of uncertainty at a federal level.
“We know our customers don’t want to wait for politicians and big business to lead the way in transitioning to renewables, they just want to get on with it. Enova is empowering them to do just that.”
As demand for energy supplied by Enova grows, and as the company increases its customer base further afield, it will be investing in more renewables too – including community owned local solar farms, and other sources which could include wind, hydro and biofuels.
“While the rest of the world talks about doing things differently, and creating renewable energy supply models that put customers at the heart of both generation and consumption, Enova is actually doing it,” says Tony.
Microgrid Suggested for Byron Bay Arts & Industry Estate
Attendees at Enova Energy’s promotion event to local small businesses were presented with the potential of a Microgrid for their neighbourhood.
Josh Harvey, Essential Energy’s Head of Innovation and Market Analytics presented on how a Microgrid would be beneficial to this business community.
Major benefits of a microgrid include reliability during major power outages via the central ‘grid’ but also may lower costs. Increasing the amount of onsite energy generation in conjunction with appropriate physical measures is a risk mitigation strategy for security of supply.
Through optimisation of community onsite generation and reduction in network costs, the microgrid has the potential to reduce prices for participants as well as improve reliability and resilience.
Repower Byron – Encouraging us to make powerful changes, street by street
Enova Community, Zero Emissions Byron and COREM, with support from Byron Shire Council, will team up to form Repower Byron Shire, an initiative that will encourage us to change the way we power our lives to achieve 100% renewable energy in the Byron Shire.
What is Repower Byron Shire?
Repower Byron Shire was launched at Nina Bishop’s House, 60 Brushbox Drive on Sunday 17th September as part of the Sustainable House Day festivities.
Repower Byron Shire is a community led movement to support and inspire us all to transition to a renewable energy future.
It’s about switching on people power, by using the Lock the Gate street by street model, to decrease the cost of electricity and increase local generation, while reducing carbon emissions. The choice is ours to have locally made renewable energy that ensures our air and water is clean and healthy for our families and generations that follow.
How will it work?
Each street in the Shire will be encouraged to make the transition to renewables.
The 3 easy steps to the campaign are:
ETHICAL USE – learn how to choose ethical electricity that rewards retailers that are climate champions over those retailers that are fossil fuel addicted.
REDUCE – learn how to cut your bills and reduce your carbon footprint
PRODUCE – learn how solar PV can be an investment to earn income while taking climate action
When the entire street has converted and been audited, they will receive a special banner, showing the rest of the community that they’ve achieved the goal.
Street by street, suburb by suburb, the campaign aims to achieve 100% renewables in the Byron Shire.
“Similar to the ‘Lock the Gate’ campaign, this is a way for people to take action and really make a difference not only to their own power consumption and reduce their bills, but do something positive for the environment,” says Enova Community Energy Manager Sandi Middleton.
The Pilot Programme sponsored by Byron Shire Council
“A pilot program involving two streets, one in Mullumbimby and another in central Byron begins in late September. These locals have already embraced the concept and street champions have been identified. Once we have had a chance to see how the program can run practically on a small scale, it will be launched into the wider community,” says Councilor Jeanette Martin. “And then the race will be on to see which streets can be the first to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal.”
Zero Emissions Byron says this initiative is a significant component of the organisations push towards reaching its mission of ‘Net Zero Emissions within the Byron Shire region by 2025’.
Dave Rawlins (COREM), Kamala Rose (COREM), Sandi Middleton (Enova Community), Tiffany Harrison (Zero Emissions Byron), Ella Goninan (COREM)
“We want to create a sense of competition, but also camaraderie, because achieving this will certainly provide impetus for other communities to embrace this kind of change. Town by town around the nation people can make the transition to renewables, easily and without fuss. While the Government and big business are still talking about transitioning to renewables, we’ll be already there!” says Tiffany Harrison from ZEB.
Similarly, COREM’s involvement reflects its mission to achieve 100% renewable energy in Mullumbimby by 2020.
“This is a perfect way for individual households to make a choice to go for renewable energy and just get on with it,” says Dave Rawlins from COREM.
Enova Community Energy has also made no secret of its desire to help the whole of Australia transition to renewables as soon as possible.
“Ours is a community that embraces change and action, and together we can do this,” says Enova Community Manager Sandi Middleton.
For those locals (for e.g. renters or people living in apartments) who can’t have solar panels and generate their own energy, Enova is launching new energy plans that will enable customers to purchase only locally-generated renewable energy.
“Basically, what this means is that people with solar who feed excess back to Enova and get paid a generous 16c FIT for doing so, will have the satisfaction of knowing that their solar is then being made available, via Enova, to their neighbours who don’t have their own,” says Sandi. “We are currently buying 40% of the electricity we sell from local renewable sources and would love to raise this to 100% one day.”
Where does Enova source its renewable energy supply?
Enova’s energy sources vary. As a community-owned company, Enova Energy, we want to support community-generated renewable industry where possible.
As of September 2017, we introduced new renewable energy options to all our plans so all our customers have access to affordable renewable energy.
Our current sources include:
1. 100% renewable energy sourced from Enova’s community >read more.
2. Affordable, government accredited 100% GreenPower > read more.
We will continue to source renewable energy from the Enova community, both within the Northern Rivers and beyond. We will endeavour to enter into supply contracts which are both supportive of the local industry and affordable for our customers.
Will I be able to choose where my renewable energy comes from?
Over time we want to give customers the choice of which renewable energy project they wish to support. We will be able to connect the generation project to the customers who want to support it. We do not mean we will run power lines direct to your home from the generator but that we will purchase the electricity from the generator at an agreed price and pass this through to the customers who want to support it.
The GreenPower program was launched in 1997 after considerable consultation with the energy industry and various non-government organisations including the Australian Consumers Association (now Choice), Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The aims of the Program are to:
Facilitate the installation of new renewable energy generators across Australia beyond mandatory requirements.
Encourage growth in consumer demand for renewable energy.
Provide consumer choice for, and increase consumer confidence in, credible renewable energy products. • Increase consumer awareness of renewable energy and greenhouse issues.
Decrease greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation.
By purchasing GreenPower, households and businesses commit their retailers to purchasing the equivalent amount of electricity from accredited renewable energy generators, which generate electricity from sources like wind, solar, water and bioenergy. Since the program started, approximately $1.5billion in additional financial support has been invested back to these generators through GreenPower purchases.
As part of all Enova Energy plans, we offer you the option you to choose to add on GreenPower 100 for and additional 8c per kWh excluding GST. Full Price Fact Sheets avail here
How Does GreenPower Work?
Over time as more and more people buy GreenPower more renewable generators will be built and come on line. It is important to understand that GreenPower is “additional” to or outside of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), so when you buy GreenPower you are not simply helping the retailers to meet their RET obligations; all GreenPower sales volumes are over and above the RET.
It is important to support GreenPower to ensure more is done in the way of renewable energy generation. The RET is legislated and will happen regardless of what individuals do, as the retailers have to invest in renewable electricity to meet the mandated target. As individuals if we want to support renewable energy, we should want our efforts to be additional to the RET. The program also ensures there is no double counting of RECs from renewable generators. The retailer can either surrender the REC (LGC) to the regulator to help them meet their RET obligations or surrender eligible RECs as GreenPower. They cannot do both. The GreenPower Program also has publicly available independent auditing of retailers’ GreenPower sales and surrenders each year. So you can have confidence when you buy GreenPower that you are getting what you paid for; you know your money is being invested back into the renewable energy sector, and that it is over and above the RET.
Is all renewable energy accredited GreenPower?
No. The GreenPower program is particular about what meets its standards. The GreenPower accreditation process has several criteria when assessing if a generator is suitable to be able use the GreenPower brand and that is eligible to be sold as GreenPower. For example, only renewable energy that comes from a generator built after 1997 is acceptable because the program is about building new renewable generation, so electricity from an old hydro scheme like the Snowy Mountains cannot be accredited, nor would renewable energy generated from burning wood waste from native or old growth forests.
Why choose Greenpower?
By purchasing GreenPower you can be sure you are displacing your electricity usage with certified renewable energy that has zero net emissions. As well as reducing your impact on the environment, by becoming part of the GreenPower community, customers like you are helping to support Australia’s renewable energy sector. That’s because the bulk of the premiums you pay for GreenPower go directly back to the GreenPower certified electricity generators. Since the program started in 1997, GreenPower customers have been responsible for investing approximately $1.5billion back into Australia’s renewable energy industry, this also helps to create jobs and support the businesses that supply services to these generators. Currently around 90% of the electricity used in Australia is generated from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal. This makes the electricity sector the biggest single contributor to Australia’s greenhouse emissions. However, by purchasing GreenPower businesses and households have reduced the emissions caused by electricity generation in Australia by 18 million tonnes. That’s the equivalent of taking around 5 million cars off the road for a full year! Importantly, this renewable energy is additional to the amount of renewable energy already in the grid as mandated by government requirements – such as the Australian Renewable Energy Target (RET).
Energy Talks Don’t Promise Real Change
‘Disappointing’, pretty much sums up how I would describe the outcomes of the Prime Minister’s price talks with the major energy retailers yesterday.
‘Wasted opportunity’ might be other words I’d use. Because I fail to see how introducing added layers of compliance such as those proposed by the PM and the big retailers, is going to actually solve the fact that in NSW alone more than 100,000 residential customers can’t pay their bills and have an average electricity debt of more than $500.
Energy must be accessible and affordable for everyone. And in my view, solving that particular problem starts with the way we currently generate energy in this country.
The ‘4 commitments’ by the big retailers will place an unnecessary administration burden and compliance cost on smaller retailers, many of whom are already doing the right thing by their customers, on shoestring operating budgets and with limited manpower.
The ‘4 Commitments’ don’t address the systemic problems faced by the industry which stem from a lack of rigorous control over the way generators operate – which is widely acknowledged as directly affecting energy prices.
Nor do they go anyway towards facilitating innovation and competition.
Ingenuity is what Australia was built upon. It’s the Government’s role to champion an efficient industry that thrives on healthy competition, by actively encouraging small companies, like Enova Energy, rather than hindering them. These smaller start-ups have nimble, responsive, business models and clever ideas about how energy supply and energy distribution can be done differently, at a community level.
Australia needs a robust energy marketplace that’s not dominated by one or two players. Because such a market would deliver greater transparency for customers and more choice.
The game is changing, but the current playing field is far from level and consumers are suffering. Yesterday’s talks do nothing to change that fact.
The Government needs to stop procrastinating and start to nurture Australia’s transition to renewables too … because it’s happening anyway.
We’re already seeing a groundswell of smaller energy companies harnessing renewables like solar, wind and biofuels, and creating customer-centric supply and distribution channels.
It would be a disaster to see these companies fail over mandated administration and compliance that will do little to actually curb rising prices.
Australia’s energy crisis and how it affects your electricity bill
If you’ve been following the stories in the media, you’ll know that there are big changes happening in the energy industry.
It’s been reported that energy prices are set to rise and there will be large-scale ‘blackouts’ caused by impending energy shortages. (See updated news reports on the gas shortages at end of this article)
Australia is reaching a pivotal point in the transition from old outdated fossil fuels to cleaner, greener energy sources, which poses some issues because over many years Governments have lacked clarity, foresight and strong leadership on this issue.
It’s a complex area and the process of transition and lack of policy has undoubtedly contributed to issues we’re now facing regarding wholesale pricing, retail pricing and the future of our power supply.
This debate is highly complex so in this and a series of related articles Enova is sticking to the facts – what you need to know and how you’re likely to be affected.
Prices are rising
There are systemic issues complicating the discussion beyond energy resource management, although the bottom line is that prices are rising, – wholesale electricity prices (the price your electricity retailer pays to access electricity on your behalf) have been increasing for some time now.
So far, retailers have been able to protect consumers by absorbing these increases – wholesale energy prices that have nearly tripled over the past twelve months. But this cannot remain the case for much longer. In July, most retailers are expected to pass these increases through to customer which means electricity prices could rise by as much as 20%.
Will electricity bills go up?
Unfortunately, the short answer is ‘Yes’. It is unlikely that prices will return to previous low levels in the short to medium term. In fact, we are predicting as much as a 20% increase over the coming months by all retailers. This also depends on changes in network charges. At the moment, we are assuming they will remain the same.
How much retailers will pass onto consumers remains to be seen, but consumers need to brace themselves for industry wide price hikes that cannot be avoided.
Why are prices rising?
There’s no one single (or simple) answer to this question. The way the Australian wholesale electricity market operates means that Australian wholesale electricity is one of the most volatile commodities in the world and this has a lot to do with it.
Electricity Price and Demand Example
The cost to supply electricity is set initially by generators bidding in a price every half an hour, which is heavily influenced by market supply (Generators available to be called on to operate) and demand, which is high during the during hot summer days.
Energy Generator Bidding Example
The demand was very high during the extremely hot summer days we experienced earlier this year, the price of electricity went up 230 times higher than average. It peaked at $14,200 per megawatt – the ceiling price.
Retailers like Enova pay this wholesale price. To protect ourselves and our customers from these largely unpredictable price spikes, retailers purchase a ‘hedge’ that, in turn, protects us financially.
A hedge is like insurance and sets a maximum price that a retailer is exposed to.
How and when generators bid into the market also predicts supply prices, and it’s been widely known in the industry for a long time that a certain amount of ‘gaming’ goes on which drives prices up – which under current market rules is completely legal, even though it’s not in the best interests of the consumer.
However, now that the market operator, AEMO has a new CEO and within the remits of the ACCC investigation that’s been instigated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull some of these aspects of the wholesale market may be investigated and hopefully we’ll see a tightening of the regulations so that the consumer is better protected.
On top of what we pay for electricity, retailers like Enova Energy add a margin to cover operating costs and make a profit.
Of your total bill the actual cost of electricity makes up about a quarter.
Are grid and network costs reasonable?
For the past few years, the cost of maintaining aging infrastructure has been cited as the main reason for price hikes. In your electricity bill, you pay costs for distribution (network charges) and they’re charged to your electricity retailer by the company that manages the poles and wires. In Enova’s case, this is Essential Energy.
The return on the assets that networks can earn are highly regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and these then translate into network fees. These fees are passed onto you and typically account for around half of the final total of your bill.
Finally, the remaining balance is made up of other environmental charges such as Australian and state and territory government-based environmental programs including those aimed at increasing renewable electricity generation.
The current national debate focuses on many potential solutions including:
improved connection between the states,
earmarking a portion of gas for domestic use only and
more sophisticated grid management.
Yes, clean coal is mentioned too. But we’re not convinced it’s actually a real thing. Coal is either filthy, or a bit less filthy and while it’s unrealistic to suggest that it won’t be around for a little while yet, it’s our belief that time and effort and money will be better spent on alternatives with real potential such as:
In the short term there probably is a role to play for gas, but with the rapid changes in storage technologies this time frame seems very limited and might even bypass gas. In the meantime, AEMO , the Australian Electricity Market Operator, has drawn up a list of recommendations including that LNG producers redirect some gas meant for export and set it aside for domestic use only. There is also the introduction of incentives to see what extra gas can be extracted from existing and new fields, and building a proposed pipeline from the Northern Territory to eastern states.
In its latest budget, handed down in May 2017, the Federal Government earmarked $28.7 million over four years to encourage the responsible development of onshore gas for the domestic market.
Pumped Hydro/Snowy River Hydro
In the same 2017 federal budget, the Government stated its intention to buy a larger share of the Snowy Hydro scheme to bolster its renewable energy stores.
Right now, especially under these circumstances, there is a clear imperative to look to other energy sources. On average, most places in Australia experience more than 200 days of sunshine per year, yet as a nation we are nowhere near as advanced with rooftop generated solar power as we could be. Solar power is a clean, reliable energy source that can be used on its own, or augmented with other power sources. Solar presents an obvious solution because it is cost effective, and immediately available. Households that install panels on their roofs today can be generating their own solar immediately and feed back to the grid any excess they generate.
Until now, the price of batteries has been the main impediment to wide-spread uptake for households. However, it’s possible that in the face of this impending energy crisis two things may occur: the demand for batteries will increase, bringing prices down. The second consideration is that the price of batteries needs to be now factored in alongside volatile and rising energy prices. This means that for some, storage might be more economically viable than previously thought. However, for households there is still reason to proceed with an element of caution before investing as the technology is still changing and so is the price.
What about climate change – can we find the balance?
The generation of electricity using fossil fuels account for around a third of Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the single biggest contributor of any sector, twice that of transport. Therefore, if we are to start to tackle climate change, the easiest place to start is transitioning to a cleaner energy sector and leaving 19th century fuels behind, buried in the ground where they belong.
The mounting evidence suggests that the most immediate, cost-effective and most flexible solution to Australia’s energy crisis, whilst also possibly delivering a more rapid cut in emissions involves a combination of:
better energy connection between the states,
improved energy efficiency,
energy market education and transparency for consumers,
and more sophisticated grid management at times of peak demand.
So, there are number of feasible options to energy management and costs, and they are all valid. But the impact upon the consumer in all of this remains the issue of rising prices, at least in the short term as we transition to lower cost and reliable renewable energy.
Power to the people: Act locally, impact globally
Enova is a local organisation, doing its best to solve a global problem. You might say that it’s our mantra to ‘act locally and impact globally’ and with this in mind, we’re building a business model that be emulated by other communities. That’s why we call it power to the people. It’s our vision that other regions will be able to do what we’re doing, and make renewable energy accessible for everyone.
Enova is based in the Northern Rivers, and this beautiful part of New South Wales will always be an important part of our heritage because around 800 other Northern River’s locals have a shareholding in Enova too, and it’s thanks to their financial commitment to the idea of a community-owned energy retailer, that we exist.
This community has long been passionate about renewable energy, careful stewardship of our natural resources, and ethical business practice that includes giving back to the community.
These are all things that Enova stands for. We are also committed to providing local jobs, and contributing as much as possible to the local economy, by doing business with other locally-based companies.
As well as supplying electricity, we’re investing in, and enabling, solar power generation for the community.
We are keen to foster and develop local knowledge and skills, and we intend to create a Centre of Excellence through which we can facilitate knowledge sharing and research from around the world, to help us here. It’s about using global resources, and putting them into action locally.
The Enova business model
Our unique business structure enables us to do this. Enova Energy will contribute 50% of it’s profits to Enova Community, which is the not-for-profit arm of our business, involved in Renewable Development Initiatives.
As part of our community-minded vision, we’re developing this business model so that can be emulated all over the country, enabling small communities to create change, without waiting for political leaders to get on board, and without needing the financial backing of big business.
Our business model is a first for the energy industry, and it really does give power to the people, because it enables small committed local groups to make a real difference to a global problem.
As part of our long term vision, we’ll be supplying energy to the whole of New South Wales too and sharing what we’ve learned about building energy aware communities and a future that’s based on renewable energy sources.
Enova’s Renewable Development Initiative To Kick-Start Local Renewable Energy Generation
One of Enova Energy’s aims is to support local renewable energy generation. We are achieving this through Enova’s Renewable Energy Initiative (RDI) which will be used to help kick-start the development of new community renewable energy projects, both large and small, with priority for Northern Rivers-based projects.
Enova will then purchase power from community renewable generation projects to help make them more financially viable, and create a pathway to transition more customers onto community generated clean energy supply.
Through choosing Enova’s RDI option, customers can contribute to the initiative by forgoing their pay on time discount. Business can also contribute $5/week. In effect customers are foregoing a discount to help get local renewable energy off the ground in this region.
“We are particularly impressed with the number of people who have chosen to support our RDI, this is what power by the people for the people really looks like” said Steve Harris, CEO.
Call for Expressions of Interest
Enova will soon be calling for expressions of interest for the supply of renewable energy to meet our customers’ needs. This program is another first for Enova and the region. Not only is Enova Australia’s first community-owned electricity retailer but we’re also providing a creative way to initiate community renewable energy projects in partnership with local governments, community groups and like-minded supporters. In addition, Enova may decide to further support local communities by making its finance arm available to help communities in capital raising and associated financial management.