City Of Greater Geelong Celebrates Year Of 100% Renewables

Renewable energy in Geelong

City of Greater Geelong is reaping the benefits of switching to 100% renewables-based electricity for all its operations.

The City is among 51 other Victorian local governments participating in the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO), an initiative that was led by Darebin City Council. VECO negotiated a long-term electricity supply contract with Red Energy involving a couple of wind farms in the state – Dundonnell wind farm near Mortlake and Murra Warra II wind farm near Horsham.

Clean And Much Cheaper Power

The major emissions reduction aside, Geelong Council (and ratepayers) are enjoying significant financial benefits from the arrangement.

“This long-term deal is powering our streetlights, libraries, leisure centres and council facilities, while reducing emissions and keeping costs low,” said Geelong Mayor Trent Sullivan. “The first 12 months of the partnership has delivered electricity that’s 25 percent cheaper, which means we have more money for critical community services.”

Originally it was expected the arrangement was to save up to 22 per cent on the City’s electricity bills, but power price increases since have probably come into play. This highlights another important aspect of the VECO deal; protecting against electricity price rise shocks.

Council And Community Head Towards Net Zero

City of Geelong isn’t resting on its laurels. While the VECO deal has enabled Council to eliminate all its carbon emissions associated with operational electricity usage, it has a target of being a net zero carbon organisation by 2025.

But Council operations are a bit player in the overall emissions picture of the LGA, accounting for just over one per cent of the total community emissions profile in 2019-20. With this in mind, Council also has a very ambitious target for the municipality – reaching net zero community emissions by 2035.

Not Just Wind Power – Solar Energy Too

While wind power may be supplying the bulk of Council’s electricity requirements, the organisation hasn’t been ignoring the potential of its own rooftops for harvesting solar energy. It was an early adopter among local governments of solar PV, installing its first rooftop solar system in 2008.

The organisation says solar panels have been installed on 27 Council facilities to date, collectively amounting to more than 1MW of capacity. And it appears there may be more solar power systems to come.

Given the target set for the wider community, solar power will also play an important role more broadly in Geelong in the years ahead. There’s a lot of work to do on this front, with currently only around 14.2% of freestanding and semi-detached dwellings with solar panels (source: APVI). But there are some great solar installers servicing Geelong to help the community toward achieving the 2035 goal – and slashing their power bills.

City of Geelong has indicated in its Climate Change Response Plan 2021-30 that it will also continue to support community-based programs enabling economies-of-scale procurement of renewable technology, such as solar and batteries for home and business owners, renters and landlords.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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