Commencing next year the East Gippsland Shire Council “has agreed to participate in a tender to purchase electricity supplied from 100 per cent renewable energy over the next 10 years” with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This is an exciting move whereby the shire will support the rapid expansion of renewable energy, help make some of our urgently needed greenhouse gas reductions and hopefully save the shire some money. The 10 year period is sufficient to cover the rapid (and hopefully just) transition from the fossil fuel based energy to renewables.
PPAs are contracts between buyers and sellers for electricity. The buyer has a fixed price and is purchasing their power from a solar or wind farm. The seller’s forward contract – in other words a guarantee of sales – enables them to obtain financing. Some of Australia’s biggest companies are using PPAs as a means of drastically reducing their carbon emissions including Telstra.
Shire sustainability officer Rebecca Lamble noted that “The opportunity has been developed by a local government group consortium of 48 Victorian councils. The tender will be managed by the Municipal Association of Victoria and is for the purchase of renewable electricity… By participating, East Gippsland Shire Council will be able to access renewable electricity for their buildings and assets, such as street lighting, public toilets, aquatic centres and libraries.”
The PPAs are an obvious way for the shire to get in on the ground floor and switch to 100% renewable energy use immediately. The East Gippsland Shire’s push for solar energy is also commendable and in reality they should be looking at 200% renewables or more. More on their recent solar advances in another blog. While the PPAs are encouraging the rapid expansion of solar and wind farms it is a shame that more of them cannot be located in Gippsland where the flow-on effects of employment in construction and maintenance are added benefits.