Council approves expensive black power electricity ahead of going renewable

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Greater Shepparton City Council has approved an expensive interim black power electricity contract due to a delay in the planned purchase of renewable energy.

The six-month electricity contract will cost almost a quarter of the total 10-year recommended spend for the council's planned purchase of renewable energy.

As part of its climate emergency declaration, the council committed to participating in the tender process for purchasing renewable power to supply all of its electricity requirements to reach a 2030 zero emissions target.

The purchase of renewable energy under the Local Government Power Purchasing Agreement was scheduled to commence from January 1, 2021, but is now delayed until June 2021.

In last week's regular council meeting, a $726 000 interim six-month black power electricity contract for large market sites and unmetered streetlights with the Municipal Association of Victoria was approved.

Under the LGPPA, it was recommended council purchase renewable energy for a term no longer than 10 years with a value between $4 233 054 and $4 820 313 — with the black electricity contract representing almost a quarter of the spend.

Mayor Seema Abdullah acknowledged it was not the best option given council's commitment to achieving a 2030 zero carbon emission target, but it was the only option available.

“Currently renewable energy is not available through this contract, but we are looking forward to eventually transitioning to LGPPA,” she said.

According to the council's meeting agenda, the six-month contract could see an increase in the price the council pays for electricity.

But a previous business model provided to the council showed the LGPPA as potentially cost-saving over a 10-year period compared to business as usual.

Cr Abdullah said no details about the renewable energy sources under consideration were available, but wind and solar could be contenders.

The LGPPA will commence on July 1, 2021.