Council adopts Energy Strategy and Implementation Plan

Last week Council adopted the Dubbo Regional Council Energy Strategy and Implementation Plan 2020-2025.

While this policy passed, I could not support it and was one of those who voted against it, meaning it narrowly passed five votes to four.

To be clear my problem wasn’t with the report presented to Council by Development and Environment staff, my major concern was with the amendments proposed by Councillor Stephen Lawrence.

Council has set itself a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2025 and has identified ways that this can be done without a significant financial penalty for ratepayers. However an amended motion from Councillor Lawrence also included a report on Council joining a Cities Powers Partnership Program concerned me. The Cities Power Partnership is an initiative of the Climate Council, an organisation who have extreme and unfounded views on climate change.

In order to join the Cities Powers Partnership, Council has to undertake a number of initiatives and I am concerned about the financial cost of these to ratepayers and the ongoing demands they may make.

Councillor Lawrence also indicated a desire to see Council pledge to move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. To make such a change would be almost impossible without a heavy financial cost, and then there is the concerns about where baseload power comes from if we try to move entirely to renewables.

The technology in this area moves so quickly that I believe Council is better taking slower steps and investing as the technology becomes more reliable and more affordable rather than diving in quicker and missing more efficient technology as it becomes available.

We also know that Wellington is fast becoming a popular destination for commercial renewable energy installations and the town can capitalise on that.

There is no doubt that there is some sort of truth to climate change. It is important that Dubbo Regional Council makes changes but what I don’t want is Council committing to something that will cost ratepayers a lot of money.

There are great opportunities to make changes that have environmental and financial benefits and I am very keen to pursue those. Right now Essential Energy is in the process of converting the old street lighting across the region to more energy and cost-efficient LED technology.

This is a great initiative and the financial benefits are impossible to ignore. The lights were due for replacement anyway so Council has been able to secure the best technology at a cost of $2.4 million, but with ongoing annual savings of $560,000 meaning that in about four years the savings will pay for the outlay.

When opportunities like this present themselves, Council would be wrong not to take them. Our staff are constantly looking into these. However making tokenistic commitments that have the potential to cost large amounts of money or set Council up to fail is irresponsible.

Last Edited: 06 Aug 2020

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