Macedon Ranges Shire Council is one of forty-six 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.
VECO is expected to save Councils up to 35 per cent on their electricity bills, based on current costs. This will vary across Councils based on energy needs.
VECO is expected to save Macedon Ranges Shire Council over 40 per cent each year on electricity bills, based on costs in current contracts.
By joining the project, Macedon Ranges Shire Council will source its electricity needs for council operated buildings, public lighting and markets through renewable energy generators. This reduces emissions from Council’s operations by approximately 3,385 tonnes CO2-e / year.
This emissions reduction equates to powering 620 houses with renewable energy, or taking 1,170 internal combustion engine cars off the road each year.
Macedon Ranges Mayor Councillor Jennifer Anderson said over the past few years, Macedon Ranges Shire Council has implemented a range of programs and practices to reduce emissions, both in Council operations and across the wider community.
“Signing on to VECO is the next step in achieving the actions set out in the Climate Change Action Plan which Council adopted in 2017.
“VECO represents a fantastic collaboration involving over half the local councils across Victoria, working together to reduce greenhouse emissions and deliver financial savings to councils and ratepayers, though sourcing renewable energy generated in Victoria.
“In the long term, taking action to mitigate against climate change will have broad ranging benefits for the safety and security of the community,” said Mayor Anderson.
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.