Securing power in the event of emergencies is enjoying a surge of federal funding announced this week.
A number of projects looking into "islandable microgrids" have been granted millions under the Australian government's Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund, announced Tuesday.
Among the successful grant recipients is the Cobargo and District Energy Transition team, which is celebrating $1.36million being put towards a feasibility study for a community microgrid.
One of the key drivers behind the team is Zena Armstrong, who said the grant success was 18 months in the making.
In January 2020, mere weeks after the bushfires devastated the district, the Bega District News met with Ms Armstrong as she initiated discussions on ways to restore power to the village through solar panels and batteries.
Since then a new project has evolved into a conversation about how to make the village and surrounds' electricity network resilient and secure from future emergencies.
"Everybody lost power in the bushfires. Even those who didn't lose their homes had to evacuate - there was no power to pump fuel, no access to money, the vets lost all their medications, and sewage couldn't be pumped away," Ms Armstrong said.
"When we later held community catchups, energy security and resilience was raised as a key point and then it became a conversation on how do we go about it."
A microgrid would allow Cobargo and connected customers to operate independently of the main electricity grid for extended periods if the need arose.
Ms Armstrong said it would likely involve additional solar installations throughout the community and battery storage - and perhaps even a community solar farm - but that the feasibility study would be exploring all the options to see what works best.
The benefits would include the ability for Cobargo and surrounds to be connected to the main grid, but "islandable" in the event of a bushfire, or even extreme winds known to spark fires if power lines arc.
"We've been talking with other communities that already have microgrids and we will continue to work with ITP Renewables which has been so professional and has the same values as us," Ms Armstrong said, adding that seed funding for exploring the idea came via the NSW government and the Cobargo Bushfire Community Fund.
"And so many people responded to a community survey which showed us there's a lot of interest."
Ms Armstrong said the feasibility study would get underway as soon as was practical and would hopefully lead to further investment once the project moves ahead.
Another project in the region to score a grant was the Australian National University's Southcoast u-grids Reliability Feasibility (SuRF).
The ANU will receive $3.12million for its project that will engage NSW South Coast residents, businesses, and Essential Energy in planning the transition from a bushfire exposed grid to a resilient grid of islandable microgrids.
All up, round two of the federal government's Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund is committing $25.6million to back 20 microgrid feasibility studies.