Councils have identified energy efficiency as a key reform area being targeted across local government to help reduce carbon price impacts, greenhouse gas emissions and achieve cost savings for ratepayers.
146 representatives from 51 councils had recently participated in training to better understand their carbon emissions profile and how to reduce their carbon price exposure.
Municipalities are focusing their efforts on win-win situations where they can save carbon emissions and costs through energy efficiency to reduce electricity bills.
During the training sessions councils frequently identified energy efficient street lighting as a key opportunity, which currently costs municipalities $50 million a year.
Local road street lighting is the largest energy use for many councils, representing between one and two per cent of total council expenditure.
But the high upfront cost to make the switch is beyond the capacity of many municipalities. State and federal investment is critical to make this a reality.
Last month, the MAV released modeling confirming that council expenses could rise between 0.3 and 1.9 per cent when the national carbon price commences, with a potential flow-on increase to council rates.
The Victorian Government’s $20 million Green Light Plan will shortly call for expressions of interest, while funding for round one of the Australian Government’s $200 million Community Energy Efficiency program for councils to upgrade and retrofit community-use buildings and lighting is due for release next month.
When the Premier first announced the Green Light program during the election he identified it as a cost-effective way to take practical action to reduce emissions, help the environment and reduce costs for Victorian families.
This is the first time that federal, state and local policy priorities have aligned to enable real momentum to make the change to energy efficient street lighting.
These simultaneous state and federal funding streams offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save 1.56 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the new lights, and $7 million a year for ratepayers.
MAV Procurement is now working with Ironbark Sustainability to simplify the process for councils wishing to access government funding, and to provide business case and procurement expertise.
As well as saving money for councils by combining their purchasing power for the street lighting hardware, we’re also aiming to achieve a consistent approach to negotiations with electricity distributors.
Councils remain concerned about the barriers to upgrade street lights – complex regulations, highly variable costs to install new lighting technology, and a lack of interest from energy distributors to embrace change.
Energy efficient street lights will use up to 68 per cent less electricity than the current lamps. Winners from green light reforms include the energy industry which has responsibility for reporting these greenhouse gas emissions, plus the environment, governments and ratepayers.
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