Wednesday, 13 April 2016

This Week in Council

Hi all,

Kicking off in order of importance this week is surely the REERP (Renewable Energy Emissions Reduction Plan), formerly known as CHERP (Coffs Harbour Emissions Reduction Plan)…..
The proposal looks closely at the first stage of planning, which is 25% reduction in emissions and 25 % of energy to be sourced from renewable energies by 2020.
Stakeholder workshops were held with Council staff and consultants undertook comprehensive modelling and predictive works to map out ‘pathways’ to reach the targets. Assessments are made of where Council expends its energy budget and where most emissions emanate.

Energy consumption. Approximately half of Council’s energy needs, approximately 11,000,000 kWh, arise from the water and sewerage services, Council properties account for approximately 2,500,000 kWh, Street lighting just over 2,000,000 kWh, Holiday parks and reserves just over 1,500,000 kWh and the Airport just und 1,000,000 kWh. These totals, combined with energy used by Council’s fleet, account for the great majority of its energy usage
Emissions The bulk of emissions come from electricity generation and importantly, from landfill. Since the level of emissions is from existing stored, as well as new additions to landfill, the level of emissions has been declining. Also, flaring of gas has reduced carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Further, since the life of the landfill seems certain to be mainly over within a decade, a 25% reduction in carbon emissions can be achieved by doing virtually nothing additional. Cost is not a factor since this is already part of council’s waste program. Some emission reduction can be achieved by changing over much of the street lighting to LED and the report recommends a staged program of this.
What now? The recommendation contained in the report are to reduce the renewable energy target from 25% to 10%, based on financial considerations. I believe that many in the community will find this unacceptable as it demonstrates a lack of willingness on Council’s part to take serious action regarding climate change. Particularly as the meeting of its emissions reduction plan requires virtually no action.
The cost of transferring to renewable energy is largely around solar power, with the purchase of externally-provided Green power to make up the difference in reaching the targets. Solar power can either be by Power Purchase Agreement (where a provider supplies and owns PV systems and Council buys the power) or Council-funded (where Council pays for the supply and installation of systems and then power is supplied without further charge).
Obviously the short term savings are important in the first option and long term savings are greater in the second option. The report recommend a mix of PPA and Council-funded systems. PPA might be more suitable on Council owned externally-leased properties such as Neighborhood Centres, whereas Council-owned would be more suitable on properties owned and occupied by Council.
Investment for all available properties to be PPA would be approximately $2M, whereas investment required for Council-owned systems would be around $6M.
The report goes on to recommend the deferral of the earlier-adopted resoliution (25 August 2015) to use some of the Renewable Energy Fund as rate rebates for businesses to install PV systems. This is another attempt by Council to retreat from an earlier position.
At its meeting of 26 June 2014 Council resolved: “That Council sets targets for its use of energy from renewable sources, including hydroelectricity, solar and other”.

At its meeting of 10 July 2014 Council resolved: “That Council staff investigate strategies for reducing energy consumption. This may include such things as use of automatic timers, air conditioners and use of energy efficient technology such as LED. In particular, options for street lighting should be included.

All three of the above resolutions were Motions brought by the Greens councilor ST.
At its meeting of 18 December 2014 Council resolved:
1. Council notes the Coffs Harbour Emissions Reduction Plan (Stages 1 - 2) and adopts
the following provisional targets:
1.1 Coffs Harbour City Council will reduce its per annum corporate emissions (tonnes
CO2from 2010 levels by 25% by 2020 and by 50% by 2025.
1.2 Coffs Harbour City Council energy use to consist of 25% renewables by 2020,
50% renewables by 2025 and 100% renewables by 2030.
2. A further report be presented to Council in 2015 revisiting the provisional targets in
the context of the Coffs Harbour Emissions Reduction Plan (Stage 3).

On Thursday, I will be seeking to have Council commit to its targets of the above resolution. I will contend that all available opportunities for PV systems should be commenced as soon as possible. In the event that shortfalls in renewable energy are evident, the option for purchase of Green power can be considered year by year.

Council is proposing that Ministerial approval be sought for loans to fund some of these works. This seems a suitable source for revenue.

Note that the targets beyond 2020 can only be met by large scale PV plants, which would incur a significant cost. There is no guarantee that this would be forthcoming, so I feel that we should commit to short term targets, which would help establish our position as leaders, rather than the ‘do not much now, fix it up later with massive expenditure (maybe)’ approach which is being proposed.

The Climate Change Action Group has been extremely effective in shaping the debate locally. Representatives from this amazing team will be speaking on Thursday. If people are available to come and support this issue, it would be fantastic. Remember, you can bring signs and placards to help Councillors be aware of your views.

Sally Townley
Greens Councillor
Coffs arbour Council