Major agreement will see 18 NSW councils secure more than a third of their retail energy from a renewable energy generator.
The deal, touted as the first in the state, will see Moree Solar Farm provide 440,000 MWh of energy over the next 12 years to 18 councils.
The remaining energy will be provided through the electricity grid by Origin Energy for at least the next three years.
But according to Jennifer Revell, peers project manager for the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC), the group coordinating the program, councils would look to increase their uptake of renewables once this contract lapsed.
“I would suggest that for the bulk of councils that is their forward-thinking. It is highly unlikely it’s going to get 100 per cent renewable energy, there’s always a portion of grid energy,” she said.
The Moree Solar Farm is around 10 kilometres south of the Northern NSW town of Moree and is one of the largest solar power plants in Australia.
It’s also one of the first Australian solar farms to use single-axis tracking, with panels that follow the path of the sun from east to west to maximise the energy generated during the day.
Ms Revell said that Moree Solar Farm was selected as the supplier because of its capacity, reliability and cost competitiveness.
“It had sufficient volume for all we need from them now and possibly increase our uptake from them in the future. What we’re getting is a fixed volume of renewable energy not a percentage of the energy,” she said.
“We’re always guaranteed to have that volume of renewable energy coming through, which is very important for councils to tell residents. Also obviously it was price competitive. ”
The partnership will see around 25 per cent of the farm’s power sold to councils.
Ms Revell said the partnership comes as a huge win for ratepayers campaigning for a stronger commitment towards Australia’s emissions reduction target.
“We had a lot of councils who wanted to do more for the environment and reduce carbon emissions and also save money. It’s really about greenhouse gases and assuring residents that councils are doing everything they can for the environment.”
The Inner West Council has committed to around 25 per cent of its energy being solar powered.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said that the agreement is a first for the state’s councils.
“This new solar initiative will power almost all of council’s daytime power needs and reduce our carbon footprint by almost 4,000 tonnes a year,” he said
The electricity will be supplied at a fixed price to protect ratepayers from “pricing shocks,” Mr Byrne said.
Waverley Council, another local government participating in the partnership, is pledging to have 30 per cent of its retail electricity supplied by a renewable generator from 1 July 2019.
The council has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 for council and 70 per cent by 2050 for the wider community.
The local governments’ commitment comes after the latest report from International Panel on Climate Change warned of a 1.5 degrees rise in global temperatures as early as 2030 and called for swift action to curb rising temperatures.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.