First published in Bass Coast Post 19/5/21*
Bass Coast Council will be powered by 100 per cent renewable power from July 1 in a landmark deal that also cuts the shire’s energy bill. The council is one of 46 to sign on to VECO, the Victorian Energy Collaboration, the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia.**
The renewable energy will be provided by two wind farms in Victoria – the 80-turbine Dundonnell wind farm near Mortlake, which started exporting power to the grid in March 2020, and the 99-turbine Murra Warra II wind farm near Horsham, which will be fully operational by June 2022. By joining the project, Bass Coast Shire Council will power its entire electricity use – including streetlights, town halls, visitor centres and civic centres – with 100 per cent renewables.
Bass Coast Mayor Brett Tessari said VECO was a great start towards Bass Coast meeting zero net emissions by 2030, as set out in the council’s recently adopted Climate Change Action Plan. “We are dedicated to reducing our environmental impact and signing up to VECO is one way that we are able to demonstrate that. It is incredible to be a part of this Australian first.”
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. The ground-breaking project will reduce each of the council’s current energy bills and reduce electricity prices by using clean renewable energy generated in Victoria.
Darebin Mayor Lina Messina said the project was proof of what could be achieved with collaboration. “This is a collective effort formed by staff and councillors from across the state, for the benefit of our communities. 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.”
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. 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 on July 1.
Owned by Snowy Hydro, Red Energy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated energy retailer based in Melbourne. Red Energy CEO Iain Graham said the company was delighted to provide a long-term energy contract that would enable councils to buy renewable energy at a competitive price.
**other local councils in this agreement include South Gippsland, East Gippsland and Wellington.
*** some activists, including Zali Steggall MHR, are urging a consumer boycott of this company due to its association with the Morrison government’s Kurri Kurri gas generator plans.