GHD Foundation and Tangentyere Council tackle energy insecurity in Alice Springs

GHD Foundation and Tangentyere Council tackle energy insecurity in Alice Springs

June 7, 2022

GHD Foundation has partnered with Tangentyere Council to support Aboriginal people from the Alice Springs Town Camps to address energy insecurity.

In these communities, residents are often disconnected from prepaid power meters due to financial hardship.

With the support of Jacana Energy and in collaboration with the Australian National University, the council has been investigating the issue of prepayment meter disconnections. In Alice Springs, 91 percent of existing prepayment meter disconnect from power due to financial hardship. With the average rate of disconnection being 59 times per household per year and the outages averaging six and a half hours, this significantly impacts daily living for those affected. These high rates of disconnection reflect the multidimensional determinants of energy insecurity where consumption is only a component. Social, environmental, and behavioural determinants each contribute to the issue. Stakeholders include the energy retailers, housing providers, income support providers and the residents themselves.

Michael Klerck from Tangentyere Council says that ‘behaviour is frequently driven by household function and overcrowding. In Central Australia, the summers are hot, and the winters are cold. Despite these extremes the minimum Nationwide Housing Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) standard for new houses in the NT is only 5-Stars. Interstate where the minimum standard is currently 6-Stars a 7-Star standard has been proposed. Considerations of passive and energy efficient mechanical cooling are not at the centre of design for houses constructed as part of the National Partnership Agreement for Remote Housing Northern Territory. Today 5-Star houses are being constructed in some of the most extreme places in the country’.

Anecdotally many residents’ resort to fan heaters or ovens/hotplates for heating the house (these are cheap or free to procure but expensive to run). Part of the response to this challenge includes arranging hands on support from professionals to develop awareness and education.

With funding from the GHD Foundation, Tangentyere Council is supported to employ electricians to assess household electricity. This supports the development of an evidence base to be used by Tangentyere Council and others to advocate for the improvement of housing energy efficiency. Data both quantitative and qualitative will also be used by electricians together with local language speakers to provide targeted education to residents to improve energy consumption. It is hoped that the data can be used at a systemic level to recommend structural improvements to enhance energy efficiency and to increase renewable energy uptake.

Jo Metcalfe, Managing Director of GHD Foundation, says, “Investing in improvements in energy and fostering respect for First Nations people are both crucial elements of our mission. We are proud to work with Tangentyere Council to help empower households to improve energy efficiency and alleviate financial hardship.”


Artist – Sally M Nangala Mulda
Year - 2020
Title – No Power Card
Dimensions & Medium – 61 x 61 cm Acrylic on Linen
Catalogue #10708-20
© the Artist and Tangentyere Artists