Victoria’s Essential Services Commission (ESC) recently confirmed that the state’s electricity prices will increase by 25 per cent from 1 July 2023, potentially adding hundreds of dollars to household electricity bills in the middle of winter.
This is understandably alarming news for members. If you have not yet taken advantage of the Andrews Government’s Power Saving Bonus, you have until 31 August 2023 to get a $250 payment just for visiting the Victorian Energy Compare website and checking whether you could be getting a better deal.
If you have already claimed your $250 and you are looking to switch providers, ANMF (Vic Branch) asks you to consider Cooperative Power (also known as CoPower).
Unlike most retail energy providers, CoPower is not for profit. It is a member-owned and member-run cooperative offering clean, sustainable and affordable residential electricity through the 100 per cent Australian-owned Energy Locals – Finder’s Green Energy Retailer of the Year for 2020 and 2021.
As a not-for-profit cooperative, CoPower exists not just to provide residential customers with electricity but to disrupt the ‘fundamentally unfair’ energy market paradigm.
‘We need to build a strong collective to demand immediate political action to hold rent-seeking fossil fuel corporations to account and enable social ownership for an electricity system that works for people and the planet, not corporate profits,’ they wrote in a blog post last year. ‘The best thing we can all do is to organise collectively to change the terms of the market.’
Under CoPower’s rules as a co-operative, they’re not allowed to make a profit so must instead reinvest back into the community.
When you join, you pay a small annual membership fee and in return you’ll be supplied retail electricity at wholesale prices. CoPower then uses revenue from membership fees to support its mission, as directed by members.
Since 2021, they have asked their members to collectively decide how they should spend the money the cooperative makes. In that time, they have allocated more than $130,000 back into good works in the community – including investing in solar, supporting a Torres Strait Islander climate justice campaign and a community biodiversity corridor in Melbourne, and subsidising bills for workers on low incomes.
The 2023 community impact projects that customer members voted to support over the coming 12 months were announced on 1 July. They include:
- $1000 to Renters and Housing Union’s Energy Efficiency for Renters campaign.
- $3,000 to CoPower’s Striking Workers Fund, which donates to unions and workers’ strike funds and directly supports workers standing up for good jobs and respect.
- $17,500 to the Renewable Energy Service Fund, to be spent on projects that help CoPower customer members benefit from the transition to renewable energy, like helping people to get off gas through electrification, or investing in community renewable energy projects.
- $17,000 to the Hardship Service Fund designed to help CoPower customer members suffering financial stress.
You can view the full list of 2023 funded projects and initiatives on the CoPower website.