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Katanning – the little town that’s carving its own path on the journey to net zero

Location: Katanning, Western Australia
Population: 4,057 (LGA, 2021 Census)

Katanning Energy in south-west WA is a community-focussed organisation with a vision to see residents and businesses supported by a reliable, clean and cheap renewable electricity supply through a combination of site specific and commercial scale solar, wind and battery solutions. 

Katanning Energy has a unique ‘bottom up’ approach of making each home or business ‘energy secure’ by generating power and having the ability to store it onsite. The organisation’s goal is for this to be supported by a localised micro-grid, allowing intra-community trading and shifting of energy locally, and a virtual power plant exporting to the broader WA grid. 

Financially, Katanning Energy has identified $7m is exported from the community to a Perth based network energy operator and retailer annually through electricity bills. The goal is to turn this financial flow around and re-invest it into the Katanning community and local energy management. 


With dozens of solar energy options online, no local suppliers or advisors within 200km, residents and businesses found themselves confused, uncertain and hesitant about investing in solar. Katanning Energy was founded on that need, with a clear aim to provide the trusted advice locals were looking for.

Katanning Energy has accelerated solar energy and battery installation locally through providing individualised advice, and delivering tailored solutions with a better-quality product, at a competitive price. It provides local businesses and residents with a detailed physical or virtual site audit, an analysis of their energy usage and cost data, and an understanding of what is wanted to be achieved, now and into the future. It’s a local, personalised and trusted service. 


Katanning Energy was created after the local community banded together to identify efficiencies and cost-savings for refitting a local co-op store that had been forced to close after 97 years, in part due to high costs associated with old equipment and infrastructure. 

This led to a two-year collaboration to identify and apply practical energy solutions for community benefit across Katanning and surrounds, which led to the launch of Katanning Energy in June 2021. 

Katanning Energy approached prominent individuals and leaders to support its efforts to educate the community and change the local energy landscape. 

It engaged with the President of the Katanning Regional Business Association, shire councillors, business owners, sports club leaders, church leaders, and community volunteers. Katanning Energy also approached a recently retired partner of a local accounting firm to assist on the board with financial management and community-facing advisory support. While, the Shire of Katanning provided in-kind support of meeting rooms and facilities, as well as a small grant to develop a concept logo and branding. 

Based on Katanning Energy data, there is steady work for the next 10 years to transition all 1,465 sites within, and 366 sites outside, the town boundary. 

The organisation has also attained ‘approved supplier status’ with major Perth-based solar wholesalers, giving it access to lower panel, inverter and battery prices which it can pass on to the community. 

Katanning Energy also issues solar trading credits, which are traded with a broker to reduce community costs further. 


More community energy groups, like Katanning Energy, are coming together to take action on energy security, rising costs and climate change. The simplicity and affordability of installing solar panels on homes and business, has resulted in a high take-up of this technology across Australia. The next step, storing the energy made in on-site batteries, separates into individual and community options.

Both involve high upfront costs. Raising money locally and pooling funds together can be a good start, but community organisations often find it difficult to achieve significant progress without grant funding or building a business model that generates significant cashflow to enter into financing arrangements. A greater range of financing options for community batteries could be beneficial.

Communities interested in a local energy movement should consider what organisation type is most appropriate for them - depending on whether their priorities lean towards community advocacy, or the delivery and management of community-wide solutions. 

Group aims and type will inform an organisational structure and operating model, and whether it will interface with energy retailers and distributors. It will also inform how the group will engage with and gain the support of government agencies and regulators. 


The net zero transition in regional Australia is in part a story of decentralisation. It opens up critical questions about ownership, control, distribution and responsibility that may lead to new models of energy production, storage and use, that can benefit a local community. 

It will be important for experiences and the learnings of groups like Katanning Energy to be more broadly shared to overcome the ‘top down’ existing model of building large hubs of power generation that send energy out to regions.

A key challenge for governments at all levels is how to best harness community momentum, significant voluntary contributions, and the goodwill of community members to reduce emissions and achieve net zero for their communities, whilst maintaining network stability and covering network costs where appropriate. 

This case study is an excerpt from the Towards Net Zero: Transition Pathways for Regional Australia report, which was released in March 2024 under the Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program.

The report was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Communications and the Arts; the Victorian Government Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions; the South Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regions; the Western Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development; and the Queensland Government Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.

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