Climate change and you

solar_yack_01.jpg

1. Overview

Indigo Shire is committed to both mitigating and adapting to climate change when delivering services and maintaining assets into the future. 

It has two important documents to guide its decision making:

2. Climate Emergency

In July 2019, Indigo Shire became one of the first local government organisations in Victoria to declare a climate emergency.

The Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan(PDF, 487KB) has been developed in collaboration with key stakeholders. The Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan outlines six key areas for action to respond to the climate emergency. 

Climate Change Policy

Indigo Shire was one of the first local governments in Victoria to adopt a Climate Change Policy in 2016.

The Policy was updated and strengthened in 2019.

 

 

What are we doing about climate change?

Completed Projects

Solar installations

  • 18 Council and community buildings, totaling ~135kW capacity
  • Grid connect battery installed via grant at Beechworth Memorial Hall complex. 
  • Beechworth Transfer Station – standalone power system with battery.

Solar installations scoped: Rutherglen Council/library office, Beechworth Senior Citizens building, Beechworth Indigo Shire Council Pines building and Chiltern Athenaeum.

Energy efficient lighting upgrades

  • Council (Category P) 80W Mercury Vapour Street Lights (Major Project)
  • Beechworth Council Office - The Pines
  • Yackandandah Senior Citizens 
  • Yackandandah Public Hall – Community driven project
  • Beechworth Council Depot
  • Yackandandah Council Depot
  • Rutherglen Council Depot

Hot Water Upgrades

  • Tangambalanga Swimming Pool
  • Beechworth Child Care
  • Beechworth Kinder
  • Yackandandah Kinder

Environmental Upgrade Agreement/Finance

Passed a resolution to allow Indigo Shire businesses to access low interest loans collected via rates for environmental improvement projects. One business has applied for finance so far.

Victorian senate inquiry into tackling climate change in Victorian communities

Submission lodged in 2019. Mayor, Cr O’Connor and Deputy Mayor Cr Price represented Indigo Shire and its communities at the Inquiry roadshow - Local Government Round Table on 13 February 2020. 

Plasticwise Policy

Council passed a Plasticwise policy in 2018. Council provided seed funding for the Dish Pig project developed by Plasticwise Yackandandah. A ‘better practice at events’ information tool has been developed to assist event organisers in reducing plastic and other wastes at events. A series of bin signage has also been developed. Currently investigating the use of the signage at Shire swimming pools to reduce contamination.

Emissions reduction target

Net zero by 2035 is the target set in the Environment Strategy 2019. 

Climate Change Policy 

Adopted 2016 and reviewed 2019. All reports to Council by staff must consider the policy.

Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 

2016 project to work with staff to identify service risks as a result of climate change and plan adaptation actions. Requires review. 

Solar Savers  

Indigo Shire joined a collaborative local government project to offer professional, unbiased evaluations of home-owners’ patterns of electricity use, to better understand if solar panels were a good fit. Where applicable, a value for money solar solution via low interest loans was offered. All procurement was managed via the project for the customer.  

Projects - In Progress/Ongoing

Electric vehicles

  • Regional LG procurement feasibility study and business case. Collaborative ‘Charging the Regions’ project - focusing on EV infrastructure in the north east.  
  • Recommendation to Council to purchase one electric vehicle 
  • Council has an electric bike for staff use to cut down on vehicle trips. 

Support to community energy groups

  • Partnering with TRY to gain a $150,000 New Energy Jobs Fund grant for a project officer to generate a business case for a community energy retailer. This resulted in Indigo Power. In-kind support and community event hosting for the formation of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, Totally Renewable Beechworth and Totally Renewable Indigo North 
  • In-kind and grant application support to all community energy groups
  • 2040 movie screening partnership 
  • Educational event co-hosting 

Local Government renewables power purchase agreement

Partnering with about 40 local governments across Victoria to procure large scale renewable power from which to purchase our electricity. This is an alternative to having solar panels on all Council owned buildings and overcomes constraints re: heritage and shading. Due to commence 2021. 

Solar farms

Constrained by grid infrastructure. Some preliminary work with Indigo Power and Council to consider leasing the former Chiltern landfill site for a community owned solar farm. No other Indigo Shire owned land parcels suitable.

Carbon Crunching Councils

Shared services agreement for an emissions data management platform. Next step is to collate data, to generate our baseline emissions profile. This will occur in 2020. 

Emissions reduction plan

$20,000 allocated to work with a consultant to generate an emissions reduction plan later in 2020. 

Community Facilities Energy Upgrade Grant

$20,00 per year grant pool for energy efficiency upgrades (including solar) on community buildings. Commenced in 2019.

National Tree Planting Day

Approximately 4,000 trees are ordered annually for National Tree Planting Day. Landcare groups and schools across the shire will participate in the event in July.

Projects - Planned/funded to commence in future

Emissions reduction plan

The Request for Quotation for appointing a consultant to develop an emissions profile for ISC (corporate emissions) and supporting action plan has been completed and will be distributed in 2020.

Tree planting on unused Council land for carbon offsets 

This has not been specifically investigated yet, but for a similar project an analysis of all Council owned blocks of land for biodiversity offsets has been completed. 

Projects - Not yet investigated

Selling Buller Gas

Council owns the Buller Gas operation – it could be sold to fund the Environment Strategy Action Plan or Climate emergency action plan (to be developed). No detailed work on this option has been undertaken since the declaration. Buller Gas is a very profitable asset for ISC, generating a profit of $500,000 per year. Council has a lease for a further 36 years.

A rate-cap variation to fund environmental initiatives

Applying for such a variation involves several steps, including consultation with the community about whether they will accept paying more rates to fund these actions.

 

 

 

3. Greenhouse alliance

Council is also an active  participant  and  member  of  the Goulburn-Broken Greenhouse  Alliance (GBGA) and has signed up to TAKE2. The GBGA is a collaboration of local governments and state government agencies, working on projects to collectively act on climate change.

Visit the GBGA website for more information.

4. Renewable energy, solar power and batteries

We encourage and support our residents to explore opportunities to use the power of the sun to generate renewable energy. Producing  your  own  renewable  energy  by  installing  solar  photovoltaic  (PV)  panels  is  a  great  way  to  reduce  your  electricity  bills  and  carbon  footprint. 

In a typical home with solar panels, part or all of your energy usage may be met by solar generation while the sun is shining. Any excess solar energy is exported to the grid. Shortfalls, most often experienced in the evening and overnight, are met by importing electricity from the grid.

You can take it one step further by adding a battery. When you add a battery to a rooftop solar system or install a battery and rooftop solar panels together in a new system, the excess solar energy not used at home during the day is used to charge the battery.  There are various battery storage products available that have a wide range of functionality and performance.

5. Community action on renewables

Indigo Shire is home to active community renewable energy groups, including Totally Renewable Yackandandah and Totally Renewable Beechworth. Contact these groups for more information if you are interested in getting involved.