The organisation works to accelerate Australia’s transition to a clean energy economy by empowering communities, focusing on renewables and energy efficiency.
With the energy market changing rapidly – from the dirty, centralised, one-way system of old to the clean, distributed, multi-player system of tomorrow – MEFL is making sure that local communities are in a position of power, and able to take advantage of the economic, environmental and social benefits of the renewables revolution.
Its vision, captured in its recent Strategic Plan, is to create an equitable zero-carbon society.
For MEFL chief executive Alison Rowe, equity is of utmost importance.
“The energy system is changing significantly,” Alison says.
And while many people have been able to enjoy the benefits of solutions such as solar, she says for those living in rental and low-income housing, those options may not be available.
MEFL wants to make sure “no one gets left behind” in the move to a clean energy system, and that the most vulnerable aren’t further isolated in the transition. In other words, it wants to eradicate energy poverty.
Currently it’s working on a major project with the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services to upgrade 1500 public housing properties with split system aircon, heat pump hot water systems and/or insulation.
Another program, Healthy Homes, funded by Sustainability Victoria, will help 1000 homes whose residents have chronic health problems upgrade energy and thermal efficiency.
Both programs have a strong research component, which Alison says is “pivotal” to making the business case stack up and seeing the programs rolled out at scale.
With programs and support for renewable energy projects for households, businesses and communities, the organisation delivered four megawatts of solar last year. The business has grown to 46 staff with its reach spreading across Victoria into NSW and also South Australia.
“We see it as a social obligation to share and grow and provide impact elsewhere,” Alison says.
“We see ourselves as a national player, with influence internationally.”
Next up is MEFL’s Spark! 2018 conference on 20-21 September. Judging by the who’s who of speakers, it’s going to be a must-attend event.
“The calibre of people on the speaker list is phenomenal,” Alison says.
She’s particularly excited that Professor John Thwaites – chair of ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute – will be giving an oration in dedication to MEFL founder Mike Hill, who sadly passed away in 2016.