OPINION

Our council is switching to renewable energy and cutting gas to save money

Our council is switching to renewable energy and cutting gas to save money | Our Future

As local businesses, communities and local governments struggle under tighter budgets, we increasingly need to focus on actions that can save us money and set us up for the future.

A good place to start is reducing the cost of our bills.

Australia is one of the largest gas exporters in the world, but we pay some of the highest prices for our own gas.

It's also a fossil fuel that's driving climate change.

Addressing climate change is the biggest challenge facing our community.

In Hawkesbury, NSW, and for many communities around Australia, climate change means more extreme summer temperatures, longer drought periods and bushfire seasons, and floods.

As mayor of Hawkesbury City, on the north-western outskirts of Sydney, I'm proud to say that we're doing our bit to get to net-zero emissions by 2030 by driving action and innovation across the community to lower greenhouse gas emissions and costs.

Council is now sourcing 100 per cent renewable energy for its large sites.

This will save $2.5 million over 10 years and reduce carbon emissions by 67,000 tonnes.

That's the equivalent of taking more than 14,500 cars off the road for one year.

We're also switching from gas to clean energy because we know the business case stacks up.

A new Climate Council report Path to Zero: How NSW can kick the gas habit finds NSW can reduce gas usage by 75 per cent in just 15 years, largely by supporting households and businesses to switch to cheaper and more efficient electric appliances.

Homes and commercial buildings are responsible for almost half of NSW's gas use.

The report finds if the NSW Government commits funding to support households to replace gas appliances with cheaper electric alternatives, and provides low-interest loans to assist businesses and local government to fund renovations that reduce gas use, the demand for gas in these sectors could be virtually eliminated by the early 2030s.

Council will soon shift a swimming pool from gas to renewable electricity.

By replacing our existing air handling unit and boiler system with a reverse cycle air conditioning system, we will reduce energy consumption by 44 per cent and energy costs by 25 per cent, saving $33,500 every year.

These are actions that create healthier, more affordable, and more efficient homes and businesses.

With the NSW Government's recent impressive show of climate ambition through ramping up its 2030 emissions reduction target to 50 per cent, I look forward with anticipation to see what comes next.

Patrick Conolly is mayor of Hawkesbury City, north-west of Sydney.

This story Our council is switching to renewable energy and cutting gas to save money | Our Future first appeared on The Canberra Times.