Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council has joined the 100 per cent renewable club, announcing that its 382 sites and network of street lights were now completely powered by zero-emissions electricity, mostly sourced from the 113MW Bodangora wind farm in NSW.
The Council said in a statement has completed the switch to 100 per cent renewable-sourced electricity nine years ahead of schedule, thanks largely to a deal with the wind farm’s owner, Infigen Energy.
As a result, Council expects to save around $1.9 million on power bills over the next seven years, diverting ratepayer money to other important services, and slash its carbon footprint by about 80 per cent, bringing its net-zero carbon by 2045 goal well within reach.
“This is a quadruple win,” said Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan: “A win for Council’s budget, a win for ratepayers and a win for the rural economy.”
But a fifth win could also be added, this time for political karma. That’s because the Northern Beaches shift to 100% renewables also means that the local government area that’s home to one of Australia’s most notorious anti-wind campaigners, ex-PM Tony Abbott, is now almost exclusively powered by wind.
To refresh readers’ memories, in his time at the helm of the federal Coalition, Abbott waged a savage war against renewable energy, in general, and wind energy in particular. He described wind turbines – he once rode past one on his bicycle on Rottnest Island – as “visually awful”, and promised that the re-tooling of the Renewable Energy Target would “capital R-E-D-U-C-E, the number of these things that we are going to get in the future.”
Such was the collateral damage that when Abbott was replaced in 2015 by the comparatively renewables-friendly Malcolm Turnbull, wind energy executives in Australia breathed a collective sigh of relief over narrowly “avoiding an obliteration of our industry,” as Infigen’s then CEO Miles George put it.
So to think that the ex-PM might now be reminded of “those things” as he cycles home by the light of street lamps, pays a parking meter, or swims in the local pool, is strangely rewarding. Like switching to renewable energy.
“We’re proud to hit these targets many years earlier than expected and deliver savings with it,” said Mayor Regan of the Council’s achievement.
“Electricity consumption was Council’s biggest contributor to carbon pollution, so this was a big step towards reaching our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2045.”
Northern Beaches is also host to a community battery that Ausgrid installed in the suburb of Beacon Hill, kicking off a two-year trial that aims to soak up consumer generated solar and use it to push down energy prices and help stabilise the local grid.
As RenewEconomy reported at the time, the Beacon Hill battery trial, using a 150kW/267kWh MTU Energy Pack QS, is seeking to enlist the participation of Ausgrid customers in the Northern Beaches area who either have solar power systems installed already, or who are about to install one.
We do hope Tony is OK with batteries.