Councils hail $100m energy upgrade fund

Local councils have hailed the announcement of a $100 million federal government energy upgrade fund as a major win.

The fund, announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Australian Council of Local Government (ACLG) Forum in Canberra on Friday, has been set up to co-fund local governments to deliver energy upgrades for community facilities like swimming pools, sporting club, libraries and community centres.

(Front L-R) Jenny McAllister, Linda Scott, Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Local Government Minister Kristy McBain following the announcement of the energy upgrade fund (image supplied by ALGA)

Climate change minister Jenny McAllister said with more than 100 local pools owned or operated by councils, local government was a big energy user and the sector could significantly contribute to reaching national net zero targets by introducing efficiencies.

“Local governments are on the front line of combating climate change, which is why we’re partnering on major projects to save energy and decarbonise public facilities,” she said in a statement.

“This fund will help local councils install efficient systems, reduce energy bills and lower emissions.”

ALGA looks forward to working with govt

ALGA president Linda Scott said councils looked forward to working with the government to roll out the new program and ensure funding is delivered to where it’s most needed.

Linda Scott
Linda Scott

“By investing in local clean energy solutions like upgrading public sporting, community and cultural facilities, local governments can help deliver cleaner energy solutions and save our communities money while increasing our resilience to climate change,” she said in a statement.

“As the sphere of government closest to the community, local governments are critical to empowering communities and creating a sustainable, prosperous future for Australia – as well as helping the government achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

“Investing in local clean energy solutions will create new jobs, deliver cheaper energy and better housing while increasing our resilience to climate change.”

‘Game changer’

The Cities Power Partnership, a local government climate network made up of more than 180 councils, said the fund will be crucial in helping local governments drive down both emissions and energy bills.

Director Portia Odell said councils are leading efforts to tackle climate change at a local level, but are the least resourced of any level of government.

“This federal government fund could be a game changer to help cash strapped councils upgrade community facilities, cut emissions and save on energy bills,” she said.

City of Ryde councillor and CPP member Penny Pederson said the funding will help Council speed up emission-cutting projects, such as electrifying its aquatic centre.

“It’s so exciting that the federal government is listening to what communities need and want when it comes to clean energy initiatives in their neighbourhoods,” she said.

Guidelines for the fund will be designed in consultation with key stakeholders, including ALGA.

A recent report, by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) showed around three-quarters of Australian councils have set or are in the process of developing community emissions reduction targets.

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