Opinion

Shepparton ‘Solar City’ not fully switched on, yet

By Belligerent Bruce

A friend of mine said the other day ‘‘gee that Solar City mob own a lot of businesses in Shepparton’’.

I explained to her that once upon a time (in the mid-1980s) our then ‘‘progressive’’ council had a plan for Shepparton to be Australia’s first Solar City, a leader in solar technology and uptake of renewable energy.

The benefits for Shepparton would be huge.

Many Shepparton businesses got on board, hence the name ‘‘Solar City (insert relevant business name here)’’.

We powered along leading the country with a solar thermometer at the lake, a handful of solar-powered parking meters and a solar housing estate off Archer St.

WOW— innovative stuff for the late-1980s.

Solar technology has come a long way since then — unfortunately our council has not.

So what happened to that progressive vision?

It sadly appears to have withered on the vine.

Has our council dropped the ball?

I guess the thing that hit home most about our council’s inaction on this front was this - I looked up a map of Australia showing all electric vehicle (EV) charging points and guess what? Shepparton, population 40000+, The Solar City hasn’t even got one.

Even sleepy little Euroa has four Chargefox outlets at the servo on the Hume Hwy and six Tesla Superchargers near the council offices but The Solar City’s closest one is a low power unit at Tallis Wines about 35km from town .

I know you are thinking that’s because Euroa is on the Hume — the road between Melbourne and Sydney, but consider this: Shepparton is the fourth-largest regional town in Victoria and is on the main road to Queensland — doesn’t that matter?

Ah, I hear you say. ‘‘EVs won’t catch on for another 20 or 30 years’’.

I can tell you they will become common within five years and will need charging infrastructure just like we have now with petrol stations.

Some of you will say that’s not a council’s job — leave it to the industry and you may be right.

But a council should be proactive in facilitating the process.

I sent an email to our deputy mayor about this situation in June last year and still have not had a reply.

This suggests to me they are not even thinking about the issue.

In Sydney three councils — Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick — have signed a deal that will see kerbside electric car charging stations rolled out in their suburbs by EV charging infrastructure provider JetCharge.

If they see the need for it why doesn’t our council?

On a positive note, it is good to see the council is starting to move forward with the solar farm proposal on that white elephant, GV Link freight terminal land in Mooroopna.

It is to be hoped that our council is finally starting to work again after 10 wasted years being too concerned with infighting, personalities and lawsuits that have hampered its performance.

Ern Meharry writes a regular blog at sheppnews.com.au/@ernestos-manifesto