Sydney Council Helping Local Business Battle Power Price Pain

Northern Beaches businesses and electricity costs

Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council is going above and beyond the 3Rs (roads, rates and rubbish); seeking to connect local businesses to cheaper, cleaner renewables-based electricity.

The organisation has done pretty well on trimming back its own electricity bills, saving more than half a million dollars in the last financial year. This was achieved through a focus on energy efficiency, installing more solar panels on its assets and a 100% renewable electricity Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) associated with Iberdrola’s Bodangora Wind Farm near Wellington in New South Wales.

With businesses in the Northern Beaches area (and elsewhere) staring down the barrel of even more electricity price hikes, Council is attempting to assist based on its own experience. Businesses won’t need to fork out for a rooftop full of solar panels to get involved, as the organisation is investigating the potential for a long term renewable electricity contract under an effective group PPA model.

There’s not only significant financial savings to be had through a switch to renewables, but also environmental benefits. The 32,000+ businesses in the region account for 38% of the local government area’s CO2 emissions; of which around 61% are associated with electricity consumption.

“We’re hoping to create an opportunity for local businesses to join forces and negotiate a great long-term deal that is secure, affordable at market-driven rates and not to mention the environment benefits – it’s a win, win,” said Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan.

Northern Beaches Council has kicked off an expression of interest (EOI) process, inviting providers that can implement and operate a PPA for local businesses. EOIs can be submitted via Tenderlink by 22 November 2022.

Local businesses wanting to register their interest in getting involved should email [email protected] and mention “PPA” in the subject headline.

“Our appetite for renewable energy and aspiration to reach a corporate net zero target by 2030 has well and truly become our passion and we want local businesses to know they can do the same with our help,” says Mayor Regan.

This initiative is another great example of local governments leading the way on renewable energy, and hopefully it will be a successful endeavour other councils across Australia can emulate.

On-Site Commercial Solar Another Option

Generally speaking, if a business can afford to pay its electricity bills, it can afford to go solar. If recent and looming electricity price rises are putting a business in a position where it may not be able to afford future bills, there’s even more motivation to do so.

For companies large and small with a suitable rooftop, commercial solar power is really a no-brainer. Where there isn’t a suitable rooftop or the up-front cost is challenging – even after the national solar subsidy that can knock up to tens of thousands of dollars off capital outlay – then Power Purchase Agreements can be a good alternative.

But a PPA doesn’t necessarily need to involve a wind or solar farm elsewhere. Some arrangements involve a provider installing a PV system on a company-owned rooftop at no upfront cost. The provider also takes care of monitoring and maintenance of the system during the term of the agreement. The business pays for the electricity generated by the system it consumes; usually at a significant discount compared to mains grid supply.

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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