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Small town, big vision: Heyfield’s MyTown Microgrid

By Wendy Farmer, Gippsland Community Organiser

When it comes to renewable energy, the small community of Heyfield three hours east of Melbourne has big ambitions.

A little known fact about Heyfield is the community of one thousand homes has led the way in household solar with the highest installation of household solar per capita in Australia. In a recent poll in the local community, they found that: 83.8% would like to see Heyfield powered by 100% renewable energy. I was invited into Heyfield as the community discussed a feasibility study into a microgrid along with looking at a business model for the town.

The Heyfield MyTown Microgrid is an innovative, multi-year, multi-stakeholder project undertaking a detailed data-led feasibility study for the historic timber town of Heyfield. The community’s goal is to create a brighter energy future for the people of Heyfield, and to become a role model for other communities. 

Sitting at the end of the grid, setting up a microgrid in Heyfield using solar power promises to deliver more reliable and affordable energy for the small town.

Jullian Carroll, Heyfield community member explained the project to me “The Microgrid project like all other significant projects in Heyfield is an outcome of  the can-do attitude which has been built over generations. Having grown up here when Heyfield was perceived as an undeserving tough timber town, I watched on as the movers and shakers in the town accessed the community’s enthusiasm to build our local pool, create the Wetlands and establish a community centre.The Microgrid project is a more recent outcome of this resilient can do culture, and evolved from an earlier drive to convert the entire town to solar led by Julie Bryer and others at the Heyfield Community Resource Centre. The bid to manage our own power grid has been embraced by a motivated, diverse and dedicated team including the UTS researchers helping drive the project. Heyfield is a case study in community empowerment and how to get on with it. It is energising to be a part of this culture”.

Over the three-year duration, the project aims to undertake a detailed data-led microgrid and energy solutions feasibility study for Heyfield. The project is also developing the knowledge and tools to make it faster, easier, and more cost effective for other regional communities to understand the microgrid and other energy solutions for their community.

The town has also been trialling the “Wattwatchers”energy monitoring system in 10% of Heyfield​ homes to find out how much energy people are generating and using. While speaking to people in Heyfield they said that the monitors have made them aware of what energy is being used in their homes and many said they had changed how they look and use energy at home. It's these lessons that will help the community plan out the next steps on their path to 100% renewables.

With mass electrification and a desire for Australia to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030, Heyfield’s MyTown Microgrid project is a great example of how communities can lead the transformation of the energy system.

Find out more about the project by visiting the Heyfield Community Resource Centre’s website:

Do you have a story or project to share about your community’s efforts to change the energy system for the better? Email [email protected] 

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