Parramatta aerial shot
Parramatta, New South Wales

Nineteen local governments in Sydney are set to go 100 per cent renewable from July 2022 with 25 councils in total to be supplied with renewable energy, thanks to a deal with Zero Emissions Now (ZEN Energy) in partnership with Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC). 

Three NSW solar farms at Moree, Hillston and Nevertire will supply clean energy to more than 300 major council facilities, 210,000 streetlights, and 3000 council-managed small sites across the state.

The $180 million deal will deliver more than 214 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, in the second power purchase agreement led by SSROC. The first agreement in 2018 saw 18 councils ink a deal with Origin Energy to hook up to the solar farm at Moree. 

“By buying as a group, councils have got a great renewable energy deal at the same cost or at a lower cost than their existing contracts for traditional black power,” SSROC president John Faker said. 

“This is a major win for the environment at a time when the world’s focus is on taking solid steps to address climate change. It is a huge demonstration of the commitment of councils to serving their communities, minimising their carbon emissions and growing the economy of NSW.”

Participating councils include Bayside, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Georges River, Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Parramatta, Port Stephens, Randwick, Ryde, Singleton, Sutherland, Tamworth, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra.

Minister for local government Wendy Tuckerman said that the deal is an important step towards achieving a net zero NSW.

“It is fantastic to see SSROC working with one of the nation’s leading renewable energy

companies, ZEN Energy,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

“Councils working together in this way shows just what all levels of government can achieve in aiming for net-zero emissions and energy security. This huge investment in NSW will be the foundation of a brighter and cleaner future.”

Parramatta council says that its involvement in the deal is part of a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60 per cent by 2038 (compared to 2015 levels). The City of Parramatta Environmental Sustainability Strategy (2017) also includes a commitment to obtain Climate Active Standard Carbon Neutral certification for the 2022/23 financial year, by reducing and offsetting carbon emissions. 

“As our city grows, council is planning for the future, and that means taking action now to ensure we operate more sustainably and reduce our impact on the environment,” City of Parramatta lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis said.

“In 2017, we set an organisational goal to be carbon neutral by 2022, and we are on track to making that commitment a reality. By shifting to renewable energy to power our city, we have made significant progress in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing our carbon footprint.”

Other measures in Parramatta’s plan include; ongoing upgrades to the energy efficiency of council-owned buildings and park assets, the installation of 371kW rooftop solar panels on libraries and community centres, adding electric vehicle charging points to two council car parks, and transitioning all council vehicles to hybrid and electric power.

Parramatta council is also replacing more than 3000 street lights in the “largest LED and smart street lighting infrastructure upgrade in NSW”, thanks to Endeavour Energy. The $4 million project is funded by the Australian government through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) program.

ZEN Energy chief executive officer Anthony Garnaut said that the company looks forward to working with the participating councils and constituents “to build the zero-carbon future.”

The multi-council renewable electricity supply agreement runs until 2026 with an option to extend to 2030. 

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