Sustainable Energy for a Sustainable Future

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Over the past few years, Shoalhaven City Council has taken significant steps towards reducing its environmental impact across its operations, with the roll out of several sustainable energy initiatives.

Shoalhaven Council’s adopted Sustainable Energy Policy and Strategy has guided the implementation of the following sustainable energy initiatives to meet its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets.

In 2020, Council invested in solar PV installations at eight of its locations, including the Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre, five wastewater treatment plants, Nowra Library and the Bomaderry Works Depot. This included a 100kW ground-mounted solar PV system at Vincentia Wastewater Treatment Plant which generates around 137,000 kWh per year. This saves Council around $20,000 annually on electricity costs and supplies approximately 20% of the treatment plant’s electricity needs. In 2021, Shoalhaven Council will roll out new solar PV installations at four additional wastewater treatment plants, including Nowra, Bomaderry, Culburra and Callala.

Council formed an internal Energy Contracts Working Group to negotiate and procure electricity. The Group organised to enter non-binding agreements with both Procurement Australia and NSW Local Government Procurement, to source long-term renewable electricity deals under Power Purchase Agreements. These offers will be evaluated mid-2021 to gauge value before entering any binding stage.

Shoalhaven Council has also continued its membership in the national Cities Power Partnership (CPP) program. Council staff utilise the benefits of the CPP including their online forums, project monitoring, buddies program and webinars. Council has committed to five CPP pledges including to support the uptake of renewable energy and adopt best practice energy efficiency measures across all Council buildings. In October 2020, Council was recognised in the Cities Power Partnership National Awards, by winning the national Energy Efficiency Achievement award.

Across 2020 and early 2021, Shoalhaven Council partnered with Endeavour Energy to replace existing residential streetlights with energy efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. Council received funding from the NSW Government to assist with the cost of these works, that will generate an annual savings of approximately $235,000.

Council has an established internal Revolving Energy Fund (REFund) that enables an ongoing funding source to contribute towards renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The REFund works by reinvesting the monetary savings made by selected energy efficiency projects back into the fund. This generates revenue to commence new energy savings projects. To date, five projects have been initiated under the REFund.

Shoalhaven City Council Mayor Amanda Findley, said “Since Shoalhaven City Council adopted its Sustainable Energy Policy in May 2019, we have focused on implementing sustainable energy initiatives to help reduce Council’s impact on the environment and operational costs”.

“The implementation of projects such as the installation of solar PV, Cities Power Partnership, LED streetlighting upgrades, and the Revolving Energy Fund are just the beginning of Council’s focus in moving towards a more sustainable future. Council’s investment into renewable energy will help to lower future electricity bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

“Council plays an important leadership role in modelling best practice energy management to the Shoalhaven community”, Clr Findley said.

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