COULD Bendigo really ditch all that energy it brings in and set up its own community battery?
It is one of the many ideas gaining prominence as advocates launch a year of community-wide talks on slashing emissions to zero by decade's end.
They will lead multiple forums geared towards getting as close to zero as possible without using offsets, raising the possibility Bendigo could soon power itself.
We would not be a world leader but we could be paving the way for other Australian communities, Greater Bendigo Climate Collaboration coordinator Ian McBurney said.
"Europe is way ahead of us - unbelievably way ahead of us," he said.
Bendigo's push shifts the conversation on climate change away from individual actions and international talks onto the community itself.
It will involve a year of discussions with public and private groups as well as individual residents, culminating with a climate summit next March.
If that sounds like an alien approach, it should not, Mr McBurney said.
Bendigo has been coming up with its own solutions ever since it laid down some of the first water pipes in the 19th century.
Not all ideas have successful. But neither was ignoring opportunities, Mr McBurney said.
"There's a great story about a meeting of the Bendigo Gas Light Company in 1890 and they discussed this 'impending threat' of electrified lighting," he said.
"They decided it wasn't a threat because electricity was only ever going to light large public spaces like ovals."
Change swept through Bendigo within the decade, Mr McBurney said.
Many of our current ideas about the electricity network hark back to the early 20th century, when state governments bought out the collections of small, local networks across Australia.
Experts often say the change was driven overwhelmingly by technological factors, according to a new paper examining the politics of that change in the academic journal Utilities Policy.
Some point to other factors, like the Australian Labor Party's desire to reduce the "exploitative" power of money and capital, in favour of consumers and workers.
Today's electricity supply is different to the one governments established in the 1920s and 30s. It comes from a complex national network involving multiple public and private entities.
There are also well funded groups advocating for the status quo even if that might not necessarily be ideal for others, Mr McBurney said.
He said technology had now shifted again, giving Bendigo residents a new chance to rethink what the power network could do for them.
The Greater Bendigo Climate Collaboration officially launches at the Bendigo Regional Tennis Centre next Tuesday. For more information on how to get involved, visit the City of Greater Bendigo's website.
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