Local councils across Victoria can expect better access to Environmental Upgrade Agreements following a funding partnership between the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.

The funding is expected to unlock up to $4.5 billion worth of projects and create 18,000 new jobs, according to City of Melbourne environment portfolio chair Arron Wood.

The $425,000 grant funding will allow 15 councils to offer EUAs to communities through SMF, with councils already involved including City of Greater Bendigo, Hobsons Bay City Council, Wyndham City Council, Maribyrnong City Council and the Greater Shepparton City Council. It will work by partially subsidising the establishment costs involved with EUAs for councils.

EUAs have been used successfully in Melbourne, NSW and South Australia for the upgrade of building stock, and work to remove the split incentive between landlords and tenants in regards to efficiency measures around energy, water and waste.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said EUAs had previously only been used in the Melbourne CBD by commercial office towers.

“This funding aims to expand the marketplace for this innovative financing model beyond the CBD, thereby creating more commercial opportunities for renewable energy throughout the State of Victoria,” he said.

Scott Bocskay

SMF chief executive Scott Bocskay said the program would help the 54 per cent of small-to-medium enterprises that were tenants.

“This funding enables a marketplace to be built for EUAs, which enables businesses to make loan repayments through their council rates notices and in turn make renewable energy work for their business,” Mr Bocskay said.

Current projects SMF is working on in regional councils includes a 15-kilowatt solar system upgrade for Keech Australia in Bendigo as well as solar installations for cold storage sites in Shepparton.