East Gippsland Shire’s Environment Connect Winter 2021 recently announced a comprehensive power purchase agreement. The publication stated:
“We’re very proud to announce East Gippsland Shire Council is one of 46 Victorian councils who have joined together to form VECO, the Victorian Energy Collaboration. The 46 councils have pooled their electricity needs into one long-term contract to provide the VECO group with renewable energy generated from wind farms here in Victoria until 2030. The Victorian Energy Collaboration is the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia, and will provide 45 per cent of all Victorian councils’ electricity requirements with 100 per cent renewables, reducing greenhouse emissions by 260,000 tonnes of CO2-e every year…”
“The ground-breaking project will reduce each of the Council’s current energy bills, carbon emissions and reduce electricity prices by using clean renewable energy generated right here in Victoria. By joining the project, East Gippsland Shire Council will source all of it’s electricity from 100 per cent renewables for streetlights, libraries, public toilets, service centres, shire caravan parks, leisure centres and swimming pools from 1 January 2022. This will reduce East Gippsland Shire Councils corporate emissions by 4,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions each year until 2030. The VECO project doesn’t just the benefit the environment – by joining together, each Council will pay less for their power than if we’d sourced electricity individually. Every dollar saved is another dollar put back into providing vital community services and programs for all of us.”
Obviously the VECO project took a substantial amount of time organising and co-ordinating before being brought to fruition, and commercial aspects were probably locked in early in negotiations. Unfortunately the company to provide the energy was Red Energy, who, with bad timing, announced that they would be building the Morrison government’s 600Mw Kurri Kurri gas fired electricity generator. This in turn rightly brought severe criticism of the decision and there were calls to boycott Red Energy. Any justification for new fossil fuel powered generation anywhere in Australia is political and clearly should be condemned.
Locally, and somewhat unfairly, the criticism rounded on the Shire decision and the Environment Connect article. The decision by the Shire was made a long time before the Morrison government’s decision, which appears to have been a very hasty one. The nature of PPAs means that there can be no guarantee where the power you use will come from at any moment of time, but rather over a certain period the electricity supplier guarantees to supply renewable energy equal to the amount of power used. For further details on PPA’s see here. There can be little doubt that this is a massive step in the right direction and that the next PPA the shire signs after 2030 will be for renewable energy sourced within Gippsland.