Lismore City Council has set a 100 per cent renewable energy target, aiming to make is council electricity demands self sufficient via renewable energy sources within 10 years.
The council announced on its web-site this week that after 18 months of community consultations – where residents said they wished the council to become a “model of sustainability” – Lismore is now putting together a 10-year 2023 renewable energy master plan.
Meetings are being held on Wednesday at Lismore with stakeholders and industry advisors looking at the various options, which will include solar arrays, run-of-river hydro and other options, including energy efficiency and community owned projects. One of the key aspects to be discussed will be the financing mechanisms. Sustainable Business Consulting is advising the council.
Lismore was the centre of the recent protests over the controversial Metgasco coal seam gas drilling well. Thousands of people joined a camp blocking access to the drilling site, and the company’s licence was withdrawn by the government just days before an anticipated show-down between police and protestors. Lismore had refused permission for the rig to pass through its city limits.
Lismore recently awarded a tender to Nickel Energy to install 166kW of solar PV – including a 100kW array at its materials recovery facility, a 30kW facility at its fleet workshop, a 20kW facility at its waste facility, a 15kW facility at the local airport, and a 1.5kW facility at the Memorial Gardens Chapel. It said this would save it nearly $100,000 a year in electricity costs with an average 3-year payback.
It is also looking at community ownership opportunities for large solar arrays under its Farming the Sun initiative, and is currently in discussions over the size of that facility and the economic modelling. It is also installing a solar hot water system at its main swimming pool facility which will reduce electricity consumption by around 75 per cent.
In 2010, the council installed rooftop solar on a number of buildings and depots, including the art gallery, the neighbourhood centre and the SES headquarters.
In 2011/12, Lismore spent around $1.4 million on electricity, even after two years of reduced consumption through efficiency measures, particularly in street lighting.
“In 2013 Council completed the largest community consultation in its 134-year history and the community made it very clear they want Council to show environmental leadership,” Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett said in a statement.
“The Imagine Lismore community consultation gave us a clear picture that residents want Lismore to be a model of sustainability and they believe Lismore can lead by example, particularly in the area of renewable technology.
“Our General Manager came away from that consultation process and gave staff a challenge of his own – to become 100% self-sufficient in electricity via renewable sources by 2023. That is a huge challenge but we are going to give it our best shot!”
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.