Yarra Ranges Council signs on to VECO

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Yarra Ranges 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.

By joining the project, Yarra Ranges will power streetlights, which account for 40 per cent of its total energy use, with 100 per cent renewables.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Fiona McAllister, said the VECO partnership was a key part of Council’s path toward 100 per cent renewables.

“Last year, we finalised our Liveable Climate Plan – a map of how we will reach our goals of 100% renewably-sourced power and net-zero emissions, along with our plans for helping the community to work towards the same,” Cr McAllister said.

“Projects like VECO are essential for us reaching those goals, and I’m so pleased that more than half the Councils in Victoria have signed on to this collaboration, pooled our buying power and have made a great commitment to renewable energy.”

Lyster Ward Councillor, Johanna Skelton, said the partnership had the dual benefit of keeping costs down and reducing emissions across the state.

“Environmental sustainability is a key role of government, and everyone has a responsibility to do what they can to manage their impacts – the fact that we can do something this significant while saving money means our community benefits twice,” Cr Skelton said.

“The winds of change are blowing and VECO is a great example of that – cleaner air, Australian owned, delivering a strong and reliable renewable energy market message.

“This project won’t increase the chance of harmful weather events and other climate change impacts and it’s cheaper – what’s not to love about this one?

“We’ll be looking at how we can bring other electricity supplies across to VECO when contracts expire next year, which will be another step closer to 100% renewable energy use by Council.”

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.

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