Emissions and costs reduced as Yarra Ranges Council switch energy provider

Yarra Ranges Council is making the switch to renewable energy sources. Picture: ON FILE

From Friday 1 July, Yarra Ranges Council have switched their small and large energy accounts to renewables under the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO) contract through Red Energy.

Following a unanimous vote at the 25 May Council meeting, the decision was approved which will cut its emissions in half and save over $200,000 per year.

Deputy Mayor, Johanna Skelton said it’s great to know Council is responding to community feedback and climate science and transitioning away from coal and gas.

“Over time there will likely be even more electricity needed to power more electric vehicles, aquatic centres, cooktops and other infrastructure that currently use fuel and gas – so it is essential to make sure Council has set up an energy source that minimises air and land damage, as well as reducing the energy needed wherever possible,” she said.

“I appreciate that when Council improves or replaces any assets, reducing energy use is always a key consideration.”

Red Energy currently provides the renewable energy used in street lighting in the Yarra Ranges, which saved Yarra Ranges Council more than $90,000 in the last year, with a 20 per cent reduction in emissions.

Cr Skelton said that the community was at a pivotal time in history, and taking action on the climate was crucial.

“Every climate action we take now is making the years ahead safer. Individuals in this country can do a lot to reduce emissions, but government coordination is vital to guide and encourage the process,” she said.

“Working with other councils to bulk buy from a safer energy source is now another way Yarra Ranges Council does this.

Council-managed facilities including, venues, community links, the Civic Centre, libraries, aquatics centres, public toilets and public lighting will all be run with 100 per cent renewable energy following the change.

Cr Skelton said it was such a fantastic result with the street lighting contract in its first year and was a very easy decision for Councillors to vote to move remaining energy accounts to a renewable source.

“Of course, we will take whatever opportunities we are able to, in making the climate safer, and we’re doing fantastic work in generating solar power on our community facilities with over one megawatt capacity on roofs – and now the energy we draw from the grid is entirely from renewable sources,” she said.

“There’s more we’ll need to do in coming years, but this is a fantastic outcome. It gives community members optimism to see steps forward made by Councils and I hope that this gives more residents and businesses motivation to look at Climate Change and say, ‘Game on’ instead of ‘Game over’.”

The change comes as part of the Yarra Ranges Council’s Liveable Climate Plan, outlining it will move towards net zero emissions by 2040, including using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, with zero operational energy expenditure by 2040.

46 Councils across Victoria formed a buyers group as part of VECO to make a power purchase agreement and the VECO agreement was the winner of the Local Government Pro Awards for Excellence in their Sustainability category.