As regional, rural and remote communities of NSW battle unprecedented drought conditions, Essential Energy is encouraging coordinators of community halls across regional, rural and remote NSW to apply for support under its 2018 Community Halls Program. Acting Regional Manager North Coast, Ross Berry, said Essential Energy recognises the importance of these halls as valuable community centres for conversation, support and localised services. “Essential Energy connects with customers across regional, rural and remote NSW 24 hours a day, seven days a week as we respond to power outages and ensure efficient, effective management of the electricity network. As an economic enabler for homes and businesses across the State, we’re also focused on empowering those important groups who contribute so much to their local communities.” Ross said. “We recognise that community halls sit at the heart of many of the customers we serve and provide a valuable epicentre for localised services. Essential Energy’s Community Hall program has helped to support these important ‘local heroes’ for more than a decade, contributing funds to 570 community halls across our NSW footprint in the past two years.” To be eligible, a community hall must be a not-for-profit, non-commercial hall used by the general community for multiple events and by multiple groups. “Under the program, eligible halls each receive $200 (GST exclusive) towards general maintenance costs associated with the hall,” Ross said. “It’s a small support that can make a big impact and each year, we’re reminded just how much difference the Community Halls program makes.” Halls must be located within Essential Energy’s network area which spans 95 per cent of NSW and parts of southern Queensland. Applications for funding opened on Wednesday, 8 August 2018 and close at 5pm on Sunday, 23 September 2018. The Community Halls program is part of Essential Energy’s broader ‘Essential Communities’ program which provides support to local groups dispersed across one of Australia’s largest electricity distribution networks. For eligibility criteria and to lodge and application for this year’s Community Halls program, visit essentialenergy.com.au/communities.