Aussie councils step up for renewables, reap awards


Mayors, deputy mayors and councillors from 41 local government associations this week signed a joint statement committing to a recovery that “supports industries and sectors that invest in a zero carbon future and a strong economy”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to a gas-led energy plan which he believes will help re‑establish a strong economy but critics have declared it is a missed opportunity to progress the nation’s transition to a clean-energy future.

Those who have signed the Cities Power Partnership joint statement are advocating for recovery plan that not only creates jobs and supports industry but also takes climate change into account.

“The actions we take now must improve liveability for everyone, including the most vulnerable members of society, and make communities more resilient and sustainable,” the statement read.

“We aim to embed, and advocate for, the following actions to recover in a way that addresses long term challenges, empowers communities and creates a prosperous future:

The joint statement outlines eight actions including:

  • Drive renewable energy and storage within councils and communities to lower power bills and increase energy independence and resilience.
  • Roll out energy efficiency measures within council and the community to create jobs, reduce energy costs and create more comfortable homes and workplaces.
  • Support local businesses to be more sustainable through opportunities like increasing the uptake of renewable energy, aiding energy efficiency upgrades and waste management support.

The joint statement highlights the widespread commitment of local government associations to renewables, including solar power.

Blacktown City Council in Western Sydney earlier this month completed a 707 kW multi-roof project while Noosa Shire Council in Queensland is firmly committed to a clean energy plan.

Noosa councillor Brian Stockwell, who is among those who signed the joint statement, said the council had seen significant benefits since committing to a target of net zero emissions by 2026.

“We implanted a zero emissions organisational strategy in 2016 and since then we’ve reduced our electricity costs on our major sites by 42% by the use of renewables and energy efficiency,” he said.

Council figures reveal cost savings associated with renewable energy installations exceed $120,000 per annum in electricity savings compared to pre solar costs.

Stockwell said council has already installed 490 KW of rooftop solar on council-owned buildings and facilities with another 120 KW to be installed before the end of the year.

There has also been a significant rollout across the residential sector with 51.5 MW of solar PV installed, representing 42.8% of dwellings.

“We also have another project focusing on our business community,” Stockwell said.

“We identified in 2018 that only 4.7% of the business community had rooftop solar and in two years that has gone up to nearly 19% and is growing quite rapidly.

“We’re now currently tracking at 25% per annum increase in rooftop capacity.”

Shoalhaven City Council’s ‘A ray of light still shines bright in the Shoalhaven’ project has won the Cities Power Partnership’s Energy Efficiency Achievement Award.

Image: Shoalhaven City Council

Shoalhaven scores at Cities Power Partnership Awards

Shoalhaven City Council on the New South Wales South Coast has been crowned winner of the Energy Efficiency Achievement Award at the Cities Power Partnership Awards ceremony.

Shoalhaven took top honours for its ‘A ray of light still shines bright in the Shoalhaven’ project that includes a range of clean energy initiatives with a focus on energy efficiency.

Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said she was delighted with the win.

“I’m thrilled council has been recognised for its adoption of a series of sustainable energy efficiency and renewable energy projects aimed at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” she said.

“Some of the recent projects included trialling three fully electric vehicles in its fleet, installation of over 400 KW of solar panels across 10 sites, commencing a revolving energy fund, replacing 4,200 streetlights with energy saving LEDs and supporting Repower Shoalhaven’s community energy solar farm.

“It goes to show that even regional councils can play a big role in lowering greenhouse gas emissions and embracing clean energy to help generations to come.”

The Cities Power Partnership Awards, announced on Thursday night, celebrated outstanding work from local governments in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, community engagement and innovation as well as individual climate champion awards.

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