Councils commit to solar-driven renewable energy power plan


All large council facilities and assets across seven New South Wales (NSW) local government regions will soon be powered by 100% renewable energy following the signing of a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Red Energy, the energy retailer owned by Snowy Hydro.

Facilitated by Melbourne-based procurements services company Procurement Australia, the agreement with Red Energy will deliver enough solar-driven renewable energy to power the electricity needs of the Wingecarribee, Albury City, Bega Valley, Camden, Penrith City, Queanbeyan-Palerang and Wollongong councils.

The renewable energy will be provided by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures’ 115 MW Metz Solar Farm near Armidale in the NSW New England region. The facility achieved commercial operation status in September and is now operating at full capacity, generating 320,000 MWh annually. The federal government-owned Snowy Hydro has a long-term supply agreement in place with the facility.

Under the 10-year PPA, the participating councils will transfer their power supply in a staged approach to renewable electricity from January 2023. Approximately 90% of the councils’ operational electricity use will be immediately transferred to the new power supply with the remaining assets to be rolled in when possible.

Wingecarribee Shire Council General Manager Lisa Miscamble said eventually all the councils’ nominated large and small market sites will be powered by renewable electricity.

“This is the largest single-emissions reduction commitment in council’s history and one of the most significant in the Southern Highlands,” she said.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of this historic undertaking that will see council’s largest sites transition to renewable electricity as of January 2023.

“It’s also one of the cornerstone actions towards achieving net zero carbon emissions and leading long-term sustainability across our shire.”

Miscamble said the PPA leveraged on the joint participation from all seven councils.

“Together this 10-year agreement will ultimately see all council assets, including public lighting, powered by renewable electricity generated from within NSW,” she said.

Procurement Australia Chief Executive Joe Arena said he expects the success of the PPA will deliver more cross-council contracts with work on another agreement having already commenced on the back of intensifying interest from other councils and regulatory bodies.

“This PPA is just the beginning of the work we want to do in NSW,” he said. “We’re already fielding numerous council enquiries for the next NSW PPA, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with members and the wider energy market to make it happen as soon as possible.”

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