(L-R) Samantha Ratnam, Moreland City Council; Bernadene Voss, City of Port Phillip; Ron Gauci, Fed Square; Allan Tait, University of Melbourne; Arron Wood and Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne; Harry Drakos, NAB; Damien Walsh, Bank Australia; Phillip Hall, NEXTDC.

A consortium of businesses, councils, universities and cultural institutions in Melbourne have released a tender for a renewable energy plant from which it will directly buy 110 gigawatt-hours of energy, cutting 138,600 tonnes of CO2 a year.

The Melbourne Renewable Energy Project, led by the City of Melbourne, includes Australia Post, NAB, the University of Melbourne, RMIT, NEXTDC, Zoos Victoria, the City of Port Phillip, Moreland City Council, the City of Yarra, Citywide, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Bank Australia.

City of Melbourne environment portfolio chair Arron Wood said that by pooling demand from a number of parties, enough scale could be reached to enable a new renewable plant to be built. The tender does not dictate which renewable technology is to be used, though it is likely to be wind power or large-scale solar PV.

“The fantastic thing is that the direct renewable energy purchase model is replicable,” Mr Wood said. “We’ve already had strong international interest from local governments around the world about using the model to accelerate the transition to renewables.”

The tender has been released by Procurement Australia, and is seeking submissions from new renewable energy projects that are shovel-ready and have planning approval.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the contract to deliver energy would span at least 10 years, with the plant to be built in regional Australia.

“Up to 140 jobs could be created in the construction phase, with a number of ongoing jobs in the operation and management of the plant,” Mr Doyle said. “We are challenging the market to supply us with the right energy at the right price. If the market responds effectively, we will see a new renewable energy plant constructed within the next two years.”

Head of environmental sustainability at Australia Post, Andrew Sellick, said joining the consortium meant leveraging scale as a buyers group to deliver renewable energy at a competitive price with long-term certainty. However, exactly what that price is will determine whether the group purchase goes ahead.

“Australia Post has only committed to the tender process at this stage,” Mr Sellick said. “The project has to show it can deliver renewable energy that is cost effective, and we are confident that the market will be able to deliver on this.”

For both councils and businesses, the renewable energy contract could mean meeting climate emissions reduction targets with ease.

Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss said the council could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent if the proposed plant proceeds, and help on the way to its goal of being carbon neutral.

“Our council is serious about sustainability and we have already achieved a 43 per cent reduction in emissions,” she said. “By boosting our renewable energy use from the current 25 per cent to 100 per cent, we could draw on this green energy for all of our electricity needs, including street lighting and powering our town halls.”

The closing date of the tender is Monday 23 May 2016. The last date for submitting questions is Monday 9 May 2016.

See City of Melbourne for further information.

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