Daniel Kogoy, Greens councillor on Leichhardt Council
In inner west and southern Sydney, seven local councils are working together to develop their own renewable energy master plan. This master plan includes Leichhardt, Marrickville, Ashfield, Canterbury, Rockdale, Bankstown and Canada Bay councils and will identify the best ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in these LGAs. It will also cover financing, ownership and operational details, including community/council ownership and joint ventures.
Community owned renewable energy is already common in parts of Europe and North America. In Australia we’re in the early stages of the move away from large, centralised fossil fuel power stations towards clean, decentralised, community scale renewable energy autonomy.
Decentralised renewable energy reduces network costs as power stations can be built quickly and closer to where they are needed. It enables local ownership, which empowers communities and delivers economic benefits locally. It also represents a great opportunity - after the recent shameful electricity sell-offs – to increase the percentage of public and community owned renewable energy.
All commercially viable renewable energy infrastructure is being investigated for the master plan including solar PV, solar thermal, waste-to-energy, mini hydro, wind power and co/tri-generation sourcing renewable fuels. There is also the potential for alignment with the City of Sydney’s renewable energy plan.
The renewable energy plan is a Greens initiative, but Greens councillors have worked hard to gain the support of various Labor, Independent and some Liberal councillors.
“These seven councils are demonstrating just what local communities can achieve by working together on an issue that has widespread support.”
The seven councils plan received a boost on July 1, 2012 when The Clean Energy Future Fund became law and $13.2 billion was made available through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for renewable energy in Australia.
The NSW state government needs to now come to the party. Both NSW Labor and the Liberals played key roles in dismantling the successful NSW Solar Bonus Scheme and in selling off our electricity sector against widespread community outrage. NSW Labor gave planning approval for two new coal fired power stations that will increase NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions by a massive 16%. Last year the O’Farrell government embarked on an anti-wind power crusade, enacting one of the world’s most regressive wind power policies, while supporting the expansion of coal mines and coal seam gas.
Given O’Farrell’s approach and Tony Abbott’s gallop towards federal government it is imperative that local communities show their support for renewable energy by actively investing.
To solve the climate crisis, local communities and councils must take the lead towards our 100% renewable energy future and this is what our renewable energy master plan is doing.
Daniel Kogoy will be running for a second term as Greens councillor on Leichhardt Council on 8th September.