A COMMUNITY-OWNED solar farm capable of powering 500 homes should be built as as an economy shattered by coronavirus rebuilds.
The Bendigo Sustainability Group's project could be part of a Victorian government cash injection into the economy when the time comes, group member Chris Weir said.
"My feeling is that as we come out the other side of this crisis the government may be looking for ideas to restart the economy," he said.
"This may be an opportunity to be part of that, in a small way."
Hopes for a dedicated fund similar to New South Wales' Regional Community Energy Farm were thrown a curve ball this month when state and federal leaders pushed back key budget dates into the second half of the year.
"We had asked the (Victorian) government to look at ways they could fund projects like this, to them financially viable for community groups," Mr Weir said.
That could include help with feed-in tariffs plus ongoing funding for community power hubs like Bendigo's, which give community groups the money and expertise to solve local energy programs.
The BSG's solar farm would be two-megawatts in size and the bid is being closely watched by sustainability groups across Victoria as they consider ways to provide their own community power.
Bendigo's community power hub was one of the first in the state and helped fit out solar energy systems at the Eaglehawk Badminton and Table Tennis Stadium and Community Housing Victoria homes.
The solar farm would be built near Bendigo and perhaps cater to groups unable to retrofit existing homes, like renters.
The BSG would like to see four or five more community power hubs funded statewide, along with the means to help them develop their own solar ideas, Mr Weir said.
However, the BSG is content to wait until the unfolding health and economic crisis subsides, to give governments and other potential investors the chance to deal with more pressing matters, Mr Weir said.
About half of all Australian businesses had already been affected before the federal government announced social distancing measures by mid-March, new Australian Bureau of Statistics data revealed this morning.
Only 14 per cent of businesses believed they would not take a hit as the crisis unfolded, the survey showed.
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