MyTown Microgrid study wraps up with Town Hall event in Heyfield

Crowd shot from MyTown Microgrid project wrap up at Town Hall event in Canberra
This is a lightly-edited version of the official media release for the project’s community celebration event, with selected photographs from the evening added. The feature image for this post shows Rosemary Dunworth from the MyTown project’s Community Reference Group (CRG) addressing the June 2 evening event in Heyfield’s rooftop solar-powered Memorial Hall and Library building.

HEYFIELD, VICTORIA, JUNE 3: The community of Heyfield came together for a special Twilight Town Hall event last night, marking the conclusion of the three-year MyTown Microgrid project. 

The project, a collaboration between the Heyfield Community Resource Centre, Wattwatchers Digital Energy and the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, sought to understand Heyfield’s energy needs and tested the feasibility of a microgrid as one possible way the town could produce and manage sustainable, reliable and affordable energy.

The project, running from mid-2020 to mid-2023, has involved a range of community groups, from primary school students to business owners, and so it was fitting that last night’s event was a vibrant, family-friendly affair with games, food and live music.

The event was officially opened by Wellington Shire Councillor Carmel Ripper (pictured below), who shared her support for the MyTown project and explained her personal involvement in it, and Research Director Dr Scott Dwyer from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures presented the conclusions of MyTown’s research.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Ian Bye thanked project funding partners and key stakeholders, particularly the Heyfield community. 

“This project is part of an exciting trend in our region that is seeing renewable energy transition accelerating within Wellington Shire. Climate change is our number one Council priority and following the completion of the MyTown Microgrid project, Heyfield is now identified as a key locality for renewable energy development. With the scale of investment and the demand for more sustainable communities, we couldn’t be happier to discover what a renewable energy future could look like for the town of Heyfield.” 

Dr Dwyer shared that, while a microgrid proved to be the wrong fit for Heyfield, the MyTown process has helped to bring the community closer to reaching their energy goals. 

“We discovered that a microgrid didn’t offer enough benefit for the town – but we also discovered some other options that look much more promising,” Dr Dwyer explains. 

“Now Heyfield knows exactly where it needs to focus its efforts, while it has already built the capacity and knowledge it needs for the next step in the journey towards a better and fairer energy future.”

One of the MyTown project’s key features was gathering energy-use data from homes, businesses and community facilities across Heyfield, anchored by Wattwatchers smart monitoring at over 100 locations, in order to help the community to understand the town’s energy usage, solar generation and future needs in the era of electrification and decarbonisation. Along with this came a crash course in energy literacy.

Wattwatchers CEO Gavin Dietz thanked the Heyfield community and said MyTown had offered his company a transformative opportunity to engage at customer and community levels, putting real-time energy data in the hands of Heyfielders, and also the project’s research teams. (Wattwatchers was represented at the celebration event by its MyTown project team, Program Manager Tim McCoy, and Head of Impact and Communications Murray Hogarth.)

“Our team members have loved the interactions with the Heyfield community across local residents, businesses, industry and community facilities including the two schools. We think of Heyfield as Wattwatchers first ‘energy data town’, and we are now getting opportunities to empower other communities with energy data as well.”   

Julie Bryer of the Heyfield Community Resource Centre spoke about the journey that she and the community had been on prior to the start of the project and how much she had learned throughout MyTown.

Julie (pictured below) said, “It’s been so rewarding watching how small ideas can evolve into bigger possibilities.”

Julie Bryer speaking at Heyfield Town Hall event for the MyTown Microgrid project, used in Wattwatchers blog post.

Heyfield’s experience of the MyTown project has gone a long way to helping other communities interested in managing their own energy supply. The project has informed two online resources, both of which were demonstrated at last night’s event. 

The first is the ADEPT platform, a (Wattwatchers) system that aggregates the energy data collected, and the second is the MyTown Decision Support Tool, an online app designed to help other communities navigate the process of choosing which energy option is best for them.

Pictured below: Wattwatchers’ Murray Hogarth (left) and Tim McCoy (right) with Heyfield local Emma Birchall, the MyTown project’s community liaison officer.

More information about MyTown Microgrid

Media enquiries

Emma Birchall, MyTown Community Liaison Officer

Heyfield Community Resource Centre

0424 922 765

Amber McCulloch

UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures Marketing and Communications Lead

0415 205 987