The Lithgow Community Power Project has received a $50,000 grant from the NSW State Government to help develop some of Lithgow's economic opportunities as part of the Resources for Regions program.
One of the plans for the $50,000 grant is to put in some electric vehicle power stations and do a demonstration for the community.
Over the next six months, the project plans to collaborate with Lithgow residents and business communities, Lithgow City Council, scientific and industry groups and state agencies to identify the early projects, particularly those that are low cost and quick.
There is a revolution quietly going on, with incredibly disruptive technologies, and it's about to hit places like Lithgow...
Programs initiatives include a mix of guidance programs to help households and businesses change the way they consume energy and infrastructure projects that would see energy generation and shifts to greater local community ownership of infrastructure.
Dr Michelle Zeibots, founding Board Member of the Lithgow Community Power Project said that as a sustainable transport professional, she saw the opportunity for the community to benefit from the massive changes that are taking place in changes in use of electric vehicles and electricity.
"These funds will help ensure that Lithgow is not left behind in these exciting times," she said.
"We are grateful to Lithgow City Council for their support in recent months, they empowered us to apply for the grant money."
Dr Zeibots said after watching regional power stations close, leaving locals out of work, members of the LCPP commissioned a report into the viability of new energy industries in the Lithgow region.
The report found that Lithgow is 'one of the most prospective Renewable Energy Zones in Australia' according to Professor Andrew Blakers at the Australian National University.
"There is a revolution quietly going on, with incredibly disruptive technologies, and it's about to hit places like Lithgow," local farmer, geologist and founding board member Greg Mortimer said.
"All of a sudden traditional energy sources have become quite un-economical, but we are sitting on a goldmine, however the trick is to make sure the community benefits from these developments."
With access to solar, wind and pumped hydro energy, and its close proximity to Sydney, Lithgow is uniquely positioned to benefit from new energy, which will create new jobs and could attract investment of 15 to 50 billion dollars over the next 10 to 20 years, the report says.
The NSW Government is in the feasibility and planning stage for the State's first pilot REZ, which is set to be built in the Central-West Orana region, meaning Lithgow is not included.
That is one of the questions the LCPP will be posing to Minister for Energy Matt Kean, since Lithgow is in the best location, why is it missing out?
We can also buy solar panels in bulk so that entire streets can save on power, but we need help from the community.
Mr Mortimer said that he has been in talks with the transition to working group, Lithgow City Council, Chamber of Commerce, the Unions and BetterGrow.
"I hope that all of us together can go to Matt Kean and show that we are ready, willing and able," he said.
"We recognise the potential for Lithgow and want to show a united front."
One of the things the group would like to get started on is a roll out of household smart meters that can tell you where and how much power you could save with solar.
"We then want to get a start on some local energy expos to show the community what we are doing and what renewable energy is all about," he said.
"In the short to medium term we can use some clever new technologies to help households save on their power bills.
"We can also buy solar panels in bulk so that entire streets can save on power, but we need help from the community."
Mr Mortimer said that the group didn't want to just get rid of coal and miners but to work parallel to them.
"We have to make sure we do this correctly by speaking with the community, councillors and more," he said.
The LCPP wants to ensure Lithgow continues to thrive as the global shift towards new energy sources continues to gain momentum.
To find out more about the LCPP or how you can get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org.