Council fast tracking its energy change
  • Monday 13 December 2010

Energy efficient buildings, roof-top Solar PV, and using renewable fuels are three ‘spearhead’ projects that have kick started Sunshine Coast Council’s transition to a clean energy organisation.

These three spearhead projects were highlighted following the adoption of the Sunshine Coast Energy Transition Plan 2010-2020, which details how the Sunshine Coast can begin the transition to a low carbon and low oil economy.

Environment Portfolio councillor Keryn Jones said that council is fast tracking the job of becoming more energy and fuel efficient.

"Council is serious about increasing sustainable fuel and energy use, because we need to tackle the issues of peak oil and climate change if we are to become Australia’s most sustainable region," Cr Jones said.

"The Energy Transition Plan—which supports the Sunshine Coast Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy—maps out the path to get there and sets energy conservation, low carbon energy generation, demand management and fuel reduction targets not only for council, but for the whole Sunshine Coast."

Economic Development Portfolio councillor Lew Brennan said that the plan also challenges council to be more innovative in the way it conducts its energy business.

"We can reap some serious long-term benefits for our region by looking towards the future business opportunities and long-term financial benefits that would flow from adopting and using alternative energy sources," he said.

"There is no reason council shouldn’t consider clean energy production as one of its businesses because we need to look at new technologies to protect our business and our ratepayers from rising fuel costs and electricity charges.

"Council’s Economic Development Team has already started working on these opportunities."

Integrated Transport Portfolio holder Cr Vivien Griffin said that the plan complements council’s other strategies, including the Sustainable Transport Strategy, in achieving our vision of sustainability.

"The plan outlines the need to reduce our fuel consumption by changing our behaviour, using more public and active transport, and changing to renewable sources of fuel—an area council is showing leadership in by downsizing its vehicle fleet to more fuel efficient 4 cylinder diesel engines—and has recently installed a biodiesel tank at one of its depots," she said.

Cr Jones said that the plan was developed by a project reference group and was also reviewed by the wider community whose expertise and feedback on this issue was invaluable in the strategies development.

"The reference group included members with experience in the energy field and three Sunshine Coast councillors—Cr Griffin, Cr Brennan and myself," Cr Jones said.

"Twenty-five submissions were received on the draft plan through the recent Our Place Our Future community engagement program, the majority of which indicated substantial support for council’s position that there are significant benefits to be reaped from energy efficiency and a transition to clean energy.

"Council is already taking action with energy audits being carried out for council buildings and the recommended changes are being implemented.

"Solar PV arrays are also being installed on libraries, visitor centres, the Stockland Park grandstand and community halls.

"We’ve also been working in partnership with the State Government, ENERGEX and local businesses to further clean energy programs and establish the first energy conservation community in South East Queensland.

"I’d like to thank the members of the Project Reference Group and the community members who took the time to provide input into this strategy and congratulate the knowledgeable team at council who have pulled it all together."

The Energy Transition Plan is part of council's ongoing Our place, Our future campaign which aims to develop a strategic approach to planning the future of the Sunshine Coast region in partnership with the community.

Council’s actions so far include:

  • increasing energy efficiency
    • internal energy audits completed for 10 key sites
    • a range of energy efficiency initiatives are being implemented ( eg. 6 computer data centres being reduced to 2)
  • increasing renewable energy generation
    • Solar PV being installed on libraries, visitor centres, quad park grandstand, community halls
    • Investigating renewable waste to energy options
  • using renewable fuels
    • Completion of a pre-feasibility study that recommends a biodiesel industry roadmap for the Coast
    • one biodiesel tank already installed at Nambour depot
  • reducing fuel consumption
    • Fuel consumption reductions across council’s fleet
    • Sunshine Coast Sustainable Transport Strategy: reducing proportion of trips made by car—free buses and council cabs for the community
    • Staff using video conferencing facilities, car pooling, and a mini-shuttlebus trial
  • developing partnerships with:
    • Qld Government Office of Clean Energy and their Clean Energy programs
    • Energex and the Energy Conservation Communities Program
    • Cleantech Industry on the Sunshine Coast

The decision to adopt the Energy Transition Plan was made at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on Wednesday 8 December 2010.