Tuesday, 16 April 2024
    Mission to electrify the nation

    Mission to electrify the nation

    Dr Saul Griffith has found himself in plenty of high-pressure situations over the past two decades. From meetings with White House officials and US politicians, to duelling with the powerful fossil fuel lobby, he's made the case for his solution to the climate crisis in forums where the stakes couldn't be higher, ABC News.

    But it was a Sunday afternoon meeting in a community centre just north of Wollongong that proved "the most intimidating one by far," he said. "You're my neighbours," Saul joked as he stood up to give his presentation. "If we screw up, you literally know where I live."

    Originally from the suburbs of Sydney, Saul, 49, lived and worked in the US for over 20 years, where he recently helped politicians write "the largest piece of climate legislation in human history anywhere in the world," he says.

    Having returned to live in Australia with his young family, he's now working on another ambitious plan: to see households in his own suburb of Austinmer — and those neighbouring it in the 2515 postcode area — "electrified" and converted to run on renewable energy.

    "We have to electrify all the [household] machines," Saul told the packed meeting at the Thirroul community centre last September. "There is no other viable technology on the horizon to eliminate these emissions."

    The plan is known as "Electrify 2515". It aims for all household machines in the postcode area running on fossil fuels — from gas cooktops to petrol cars — to be converted to electric equivalents and powered by renewable energy.

    Inspired by Saul's ideas, a small group of local volunteers have been busily doorknocking their suburb and rallying the community to sign up to the Electrify 2515 pilot, which stands to be the first of its kind in Australia if it can get off the ground.

    But Saul's mission is larger than just one suburb. He calls Electrify 2515 a "lighthouse project", a real-world test to illuminate a pathway out of the climate crisis.

    "We're trying to do proof at scale, prove it in a community," he tells Australian Story. "Here's a community of real Australians living better than they did before with lower energy bills, they're healthier and they're zero emissions."


    Rewiring Australia founder Saul Griffith is a man on a mission to electrify the nation, one suburb at a time (ABC News)


    Saul Griffith believes Australia is the ideal country to plug into an electric future.(ABC: Australian Story/Jack Fisher)