Grants to target the growth of small businesses in the energy sector

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The grants program of Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) will fund five new projects that aim to support small businesses in the energy system while continuing to prioritise energy-efficient housing and improved access to rooftop solar for apartment owners.

The projects will receive a total of $672,000, and represent the final round of ECA’s Advocacy and Research Grants to be funded under the organisations’ program for 2021.

Since 2015, ECA has committed more than $15.3 million in grants funding, enabling recipients to carry out research and advocacy on behalf of consumers so they can participate fully in the energy system and energy transition.

“Small businesses employ 50 per cent of Australians and we know from our own research that these businesses are often leading the way when it comes to pursuing energy efficiency and generating their own electricity,” ECA Chief Executive Officer Lynne Gallagher said.

“But we also know many business owners have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic and that managing energy costs and finding help or advice when times get tough can be a challenge,” Gallagher added. “We are pleased to be able to support this sector through our Grants Program, as well as to address the energy divide between owners of detached housing and apartment owners when it comes to energy efficient homes – a big focus for us going forward.” 

The programs awarded by the ECA;s Advocacy and Research Grants are:

  • Next steps for SME energy policy and support – Business Australia ($150,000). This project seeks to work with small business energy consumers to understand how they feel about energy and how they use it, leading to insights that will inform the design of future energy support policies and services for small businesses. 
  • Small Business Power – Council of Small Business Organisations Australia  ($147,900). The project identifies the policies and programs that provided effective assistance to small business through COVID-19, with the aim of understanding which protections should be maintained, and built into current regulatory settings.
  • Understanding consumer attitudes to home energy performance – Renew  ($194,125). This initiative aims to build a strong evidence base for change by researching consumer experiences and attitudes to home energy performance, from which governnment can make key decisions on energy policies, including the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC).  
  • Spreading the Power: University of Wollongong  ($19,572). A scheme aimed at empowering apartment owners, providing tools and data for policy makers via an  Apartment Solar Adoption behaviour change model, to encourage the adoption of solar energy.
  • Local Energy Futures – Total Environment Centre  ($160,306). This project will tackle several of the key regulatory processes underway with the Australian Market Bodies and Distributed Network Supply Providers (DNSP) and advocate engagement and working group processes, to remove barriers to consumer agency and empowerment in the energy transition, thus accelerating the transition to a resilient, low carbon energy system in an economically efficient, socially equitable and inclusive manner.