Parkes Shire Council (PSC) are implementing a raft of initiatives that will deliver significant financial and environmental benefits to the Council and their community by reducing energy use and generating local energy from renewable or low carbon sources.
Institute researchers Jay Rutovitz and Katie Ross attended the recent Sustainability Day in Parkes, held to mark the installation of 209 kW of PV on Council facilities, and to launch the Parkes Solar Communities program. It was exciting to see this regional council’s enthusiastic adoption of many of the recommendations made in the Distributed Energy Plan prepared by the Institute.
The PSC adopted the eleven recommendations in the Plan last June, and have already acted on eight. Expected annual savings once all of the eight are implemented are $375,000 and 1150 tons of greenhouse gases per year, and 11% reduction in energy emissions.
The primary driver for the Distributed Energy Plan was the fact that the Council’s energy costs, already a significant proportion of their budget, looked set to double by 2020.
The project objectives were to identify local energy options which deliver significant financial and environmental benefits, and to give PSC a tool to examine the business case for each option in the light of changing conditions.
The project included a situation analysis, a review of existing energy spending, and and estimate of prospective changes in electricity prices and their impacts on PSC’s future budget. A workshop was then held with key council and other stakeholders to decide which options to take forward to business plan stage. A model was developed that allows the user to revisit the business case as conditions change or better information is available, including a 25 year cash flow analysis. It is gratifying to see what good use PSC has made of the Plan and the Business Plan Tool.
Parkes Shire Council’s leadership in the transition to low carbon energy options has sparked interest in other Councils interested in reducing energy use and its associated costs.
For more details see: Rutovitz, J., Langham, E., Ison, N. & Dunstan, C.G. 2011, ‘Parkes Shire Council: Distributed energy plan - report’, [prepared for Parkes Shire Council] available from the ISF web site.