Council on track to meet 2026 emission reduction target

Warrnambool City Council is one of 46 Victorian Councils to sign on to VECO, the Victorian Energy Collaboration, the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia.

VECO, led by Darebin City Council in Melbourne’s north, will provide 45 per cent of all Victorian Councils’ electricity requirements with 100 per cent renewables, reducing greenhouse emissions by 260,000 tonnes of C02-e every year.

Provided by Red Energy, the 240GWh of clean power is equivalent to powering 48,000 homes with renewables or removing the emissions from 90,000 cars every year.

Initiated by and facilitated with the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances, VECO recognises the benefits of renewable energy for the environment and the economy.

The ground-breaking project will reduce each of the Council’s current energy bills and reduce electricity prices by using clean renewable energy generated right here in Victoria.

By joining the project, Warrnambool City Council will power 40 per cent of its total energy use with 100 per cent renewables.

This will put Council on track to meet its 2026 goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

The renewable power will be allocated to facilities and infrastructure including streetlights, the Civic Centre, the Warrnambool Stadium and a large section of Surfside Holiday Park.

VECO is expected to save Council up to 35 per cent on electricity bills for those Council sites, which will equate to about $80,000 in the first year based on 2019-2020 energy prices.

The lower prices obtained through VECO are locked in for the next three years.

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Vicki Jellie said joining VECO provided both a cost-saving and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Moving to renewable energy is a step our community called for during the development of the Warrnambool 2040 plan,” Cr Jellie said.

“The move to renewable energy complements other Council initiatives which are aimed at reducing our overall energy consumption, such as our street light changeover to highly efficient LEDs.

“We will also be installing photovoltaic panels on a number of key council buildings, including the Civic Centre, over the next year.

“This will further offset our energy consumption.”

Darebin Mayor Councillor Lina Messina said the project was proof of what can be achieved with collaboration.

“This is a collective effort formed by staff and councillors from across the state, for the benefit of our communities,” Cr Messina said.

“By powering councils with affordable renewable energy, we’re making ratepayers’ dollars go further. Every dollar we save on energy bills is a dollar we can put towards improving roads, footpaths, libraries or community programs.”

Red Energy will provide 240 GWh of electricity per year to the 46 councils in the VECO purchasing group over a period of 9.5 years, beginning 1 July 2021.

Owned by Snowy Hydro, Red Energy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated energy retailer based in Melbourne.

“Given Red Energy is born and bred in Victoria, we are really excited to be a part of a project that is supporting Victorian councils, their ratepayers and two new Victorian wind farms”, said Red Energy CEO Iain Graham.

“Our owner Snowy Hydro has been a leader in renewable generation for decades and Red Energy is delighted to partner with Victorian councils to provide a long-term energy contract that will enable councils to purchase renewable energy at a competitive price”, Mr Graham said.

The renewable energy will be provided by two wind farms in Victoria – Dundonnell wind farm near Mortlake, which started exporting power to the grid in March 2020, and Murra Warra II wind farm near Horsham, which commenced construction September 2020 and will be fully operational by June 2022.

Both wind farms have and will continue to deliver economic benefits to the regions during construction and ongoing operation, and form an important part of state, regional and local economic development.

Participating councils are:

Alpine Shire Council

Golden Plains Shire Council

Mount Alexander Shire

Ararat Rural City Council

Greater Shepparton City Council

Pyrenees Shire Council

Ballarat City Council

Hepburn Shire Council

South Gippsland Shire Council

Banyule City Council

Greater Bendigo City Council

Stonnington City Council

Bass Coast Shire Council

Horsham Rural City Council

Surf Coast Shire Council

Borough of Queenscliffe

Indigo Shire Council

Strathbogie Shire Council

Brimbank City Council

Loddon Shire Council

Swan Hill Rural City Council

Buloke Shire Council

Macedon Ranges Shire Council

Warrnambool City Council

Cardinia Shire Council

Manningham City Council

Wellington Shire Council

Campaspe Shire Council

Maribyrnong City Council

Whitehorse City Council

Central Goldfields Shire Council

Maroondah City Council

Whittlesea City Council

City of Greater Dandenong

Melton City Council

Wodonga City Council

City of Greater Geelong

Mildura Rural City Council

Wyndham City Council

Darebin City Council

Moira Shire Council

Yarra Ranges Shire Council

East Gippsland Shire Council

Monash City Council

Glen Eira City Council

Moonee Valley City Council

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