A PLAN to give farmers and regional communities the opportunity to invest in all nearby renewable energy projects has taken a significant step forward.
The proposal to create a new government agency to fund regional renewables projects and force developers to offer nearby residents the chance to buy into the project will go before a parliamentary committee to assess its merit.
Developed by independent Indi MP Helen Haines, the Australian Local Power Agency Bill aimed to fill the gap between where renewable projects are located and where the money produced goes.
Dr Haines said politicians from both major parties understood they had to do more to offer regional Australia better ways to ride the renewable boom.
"Agreeing to hold this inquiry shows there is a willingness to hear fresh ideas and I think an appetite for leadership in this space," Dr Haines said.
"Members of both parties recognise that the trend towards renewables is unstoppable, and yet there is a deadlock right now on energy policy.
"I'm offering ALPA as an idea for both parties to consider as a way we might move forward on this vexed issue."
Dr Haines said the idea behind the ALPA was simple; "every spin of a wind turbine and every drop of sunlight should be generating income that stays in our communities".
"Here in the regions we can see renewables getting built at lightning pace - but we're not seeing enough local jobs, we're not seeing enough local procurement and we're seeing all the profits flow to the cities, rather than staying here where they are generated," she said.
"Every electron generated in the regions should be money coming back into the pockets of everyday regional people," Dr Haines said.
The Haines inquiry will commence once the committee has finished its current inquiry into independent MP Zali Steggall's Climate Change Bill.
It will invite submissions from the public and hold open hearings. The committee will then make recommendations to government about whether to adopt Dr Haines' bill to establish the new agency.