Local Government is taking the lead on moving to renewable energy as part of a sector-wide project to leverage aggregated power requirements.
Coordinated by WALGA, the Energy Sustainability and Renewables Project is bringing together senior leaders from Local Government to deliver genuine savings and long term benefit to their communities.
On the cost of power alone, the project is anticipating savings across the Local Government sector of 15%. WALGA projects aggregated renewable prices up to 75% lower than current sustainable energy alternatives being offered to our Members.
Local Government has adopted a sustainability leadership role in response to State Government targets and the foresight of Elected Members.
Already almost 50 Councils across WA have adopted Climate Change declarations, many of which have included environmental policies with carbon neutral targets.
In addition the State Government has announced a 2050 target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions for all agencies, including government trading enterprises.
Given the currently limited green energy available, particularly that generated in WA, the WALGA project is critical to ensuring Local Government can meet its targets.
In addition to delivering significant cost savings to communities with a desire to transition to green energy, the project also aims to ensure that Local Governments are not left out of the market.
The WALGA project steering group of Local Government CEOs and directors have already identified the potential and preference in locally sourced green energy.
It is anticipated that an additional benefit of the aggregation of Local Government purchasing will be to send a positive message to potential investors in green energy to consider projects in WA.
Currently the WALGA project is gathering information from participating Local Governments to quantify the energy needs and collective demand to present to potential suppliers.
All Local Governments involved in the initial phase of the project have been issued with a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) developed by the steering group.
The MoU does not compel any Local Government to participate in the aggregated contract if they can negotiate better terms by their own means.
However the MoU does provide a powerful position to negotiate with suppliers to deliver savings and benefits beyond short-term cyclical pricing.
Early analysis has revealed that many Local Governments should be anticipating significant price increases on their current individual contracts which is anticipated would be mitigated with the aggregated purchasing.
Delivering lower cost green energy however is only the start of the potential sustainable initiatives that are intended to be considered by the WALGA project.
The move to net zero emissions will require Local Governments to also look at other components such as carbon offsets, electric vehicles, hydrogen technologies, large-scale roof top solar, renewable energy certificates and energy management systems.
An ultimate objective for Local Government in WA would be to establish community circular economies where the sector could build, develop and receive resources from renewable projects such as Local Government owned solar and wind farms.
The project could also facilitate a movement in the transportation sector through electric and hydrogen fleet and infrastructure development.
There is the potential to sponsor, develop and operate sustainable local infrastructure projects to provide power grid stability to our regional communities.
But also take leadership in enabling our communities directly by retailing our Local Government renewable energy to local residents and providing a more affordable green solution to household power.
The potential benefits to the environment and the community would seem limited only by the challenge in aligning the varying capacities and preferences of WA Local Governments.
All Local Governments exist to serve the interests of their communities, and it will take the combined commitment of both Elected Members and Council officers to ensure the sector realises its full potential.