Council commits to 100% green energy target
A new Climate Change policy by Ballina Shire Council will go on public exhibition this week.
The document makes it a goal for the council to reduce its organisational greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2030.
It also makes it its goal to use 100 per cent renewable electricity for its operations by 2030.
These goals were qualified by council staff as "ambitious but achievable".
The community engagement includes the option of expanding the policy, to incorporate a greater address of community emissions and consideration of cost implications associated with it, based on additional revenue.
Council also agreed to examine the creation of a part-time position role to support the implementation of the Climate Change Policy and associated plans and actions through the workforce planning process.
Back in November 2019, Ballina Shire Council resolved to declares the LGA are in a state of "climate emergency" that requires urgent action by all levels of government.
Council acknowledged that "Ballina Shire is likely to be substantially affected by climate impacts, particularly sea level rise, bushfires, drought and floods."
Documents discussed by councillors at their last meeting stated that electricity consumption is the primary source of council's annual emissions, at around 80 per cent.
Fuel consumption is the secondary source of emissions at 18 per cent, and waste management-related emissions at 2 per cent.
The electricity consumption identified by council come from water and wastewater, buildings and facilities, and street lighting.
An analysis of almost a decade of council's energy consumption confirmed that without energy-efficient action, council could be using an extra 40 per cent more energy that it was in 2013/14:
• 2013/14: Council's electricity consumption increased by six per cent, however there was a seven per cent decline in costs, which may have been due to tariff/contract changes.
• 2014/15: Consumption rose by 12 per cent compared to the previous year.
Contributing factors were infrastructure works and upgrades to wastewater
treatment plants, plus a statewide electricity price rise.
• 2015/16 to 2017/18: A number of energy efficiency initiatives took place,
including more efficient street-light lamps, LED lighting retrofits at Council
buildings, and sewerage pump upgrades.
There was an increase in solar PV systems installations at Council sites,
including the 300kW solar system at the Ballina wastewater treatment plant.
Costs declined in 2015/16 from $2.2 million to $1.7 million, a 21 per cent decrease,
and continued to decline down to around $1.5 million in 2017/18.
• 2018/19: Consumption increased 18 per cent compared to the previous year, resulting in a
22 per cent cost increase from $1.5 million to $1.8 million.
This was mainly due to major infrastructure works such as the pool upgrades and increased wastewater services to new subdivisions.
• 2019/20: Major LED street lighting project was completed, as well as more solar
installations and pumping energy efficiencies, which reduced consumption by 10 per cent. However, due to an electricity price rise the costs remained about the same.
The policy was voted for by councillors Wright, Johnson, Williams and Smith. Mayor Wright used his mayoral casting vote to break the tie.
Councillors Meehan, Johnston, McCarthy and Cadwallader voted against the policy.
Councillors Parry and Willis were absent.