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Victorian local governments unite in largest emissions reduction scheme

More than half of Victoria’s councils have signed onto a watershed partnership, which will see them pool their energy contracts together in the largest emissions reduction project ever by local governments in Australia.

A total of 46 local governments have signed up for the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO) to provide renewable power from two wind farms in Victoria to all of the local areas to reduce their emissions and expenses.

The first solar farm is located near Mortlake, which started exporting power to the grid in March 2020 – while the second, Murra Warra II near Horsham, is under construction and expected to come online by June 2022.

These local governments are expected to switch over to wind power from July 1, which will account for around 45 per cent of their needs. The emissions reduced by this partnership is the equivalent of taking 90,000 cars off the road.

Signing up for the VECO will make Geelong 100 per cent renewable

Greater Geelong is the largest local government to sign up for this partnership. When coupled with their existing use of renewables, this will mean the local government will be 100 per cent powered by wind and solar.

Mayor Stephanie Asher said: “This long-term deal will power our street lights, libraries and council facilities while reducing emissions and keeping costs low.”

Partnership will fast track Ballarat’s plans to be fully powered by green energy

Another major region to sign the collaboration is Ballarat, which already has plans to be carbon neutral by 2025. This agreement will enable Ballarat to power small and large sites and street lighting for the next decade, allowing them to achieve their goal.

“Ballarat has an aim to be carbon neutral by 2025, so this landmark agreement is a major step toward that goal,” Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney said.

“This is one of the most important collaborations in our Council’s recent history, and with residents rating sustainability initiatives highly in Council Plan consultation, we believe it will be greatly welcomed by our residents and businesses.”

It is not just the larger regions reaping the rewards, though. Darebin Mayor Cr Lina Messina said the partnership meant that not every local government area would have access to cheap power, which would have plenty of ripple effects.

“Every dollar we save on bills is a dollar we can put towards improving roads, footpaths, libraries or community programs,” she said.

Red Energy – which Snowy Hydro owns – is the distributor of this renewable resource. It will provide 240 GWh of electricity per year to the 46 councils in the VECO purchasing group over 9.5 years, beginning July 1st 2021.

Red Energy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated retailer based in Melbourne. Chief executive Iain Graham said they were pleased to be making history with the Victorian Councils.

“[We are] delighted to partner with Victorian Councils to provide a long-term energy contract that will enable councils to purchase renewable energy at a competitive price,” he said.

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