Katanning is being pushed towards the forefront of Australia’s renewable future on the back of a bold new energy strategy aiming to give the community “ownership” of its energy. Local energy supplier Katanning Energy has announced a program which aims to give the Great Southern town its own community energy supply, helping the town save on energy export costs and boost energy security. The program plans to supply renewable energy solutions to the community, focusing on energy efficiency and daytime solar power. The company is working in association with business Belenus to install solar power systems. They are studying the feasibility and logistics of a community-based energy storage system, which would allow the energy generated from community-owned renewable resources to be stored. This stored energy would then be redistributed among those involved in the energy retrieval program, eliminating their need for Perth-generated energy. Katanning Energy chairman Geoff Stade said modernising the region’s energy systems would allow the community to keep “significant amounts of money” for other projects. “We are confident that the energy delivery system in WA is going to change,” he said. “By being involved in the transition from the beginning, there are opportunities to get it done early and with our community’s best interests at heart. Mr Stade said many people in Katanning were keen to make the jump to a more sustainable energy system, but had been lacking the catalyst to make it happen. Outside of the program, the Shire of Katanning has made its own steps towards a more environmentally friendly future. The Shire has invested in solar lighting at public venues, upgrades to LED lighting at the leisure centre, installation of an electric vehicle charger on Austral Terrace, and the purchase of electric vehicles. Shire CEO Julian Murphy said there was a role for every level of government in addressing climate change. “I think WA has a great opportunity to develop new industries which will meet the demand for energy while addressing the impact of the loss of fossil fuel production to the economy,” he said. “Notwithstanding the benefits to the environment of reducing the use of inefficient technologies, sustainable energy systems make sense in every way. We need to embrace change or we will go backwards. At a local level, we will certainly do what we can to make a difference.” Mr Murphy’s comments came in response to questions about what responsibilities regional local government had to address the forecasts of a United Nations report that predicted a continued reduction in rainfall for the Great Southern. Mr Murphy said Katanning — as a “small rural local government” — was doing what it could with its resources to play a part in the cultural change. “In the end, it’s all about finding a balance,” he said.