Councils sign on to renewables

Dundonnell Wind Farm.

Macedon Ranges, Mount Alexander and Hepburn are three of 46 state councils to sign on to the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia.

The Victorian Energy Collaboration, led by Darebin City Council, will provide 45 per cent of all Victorian Councils’ electricity requirements with 100 per cent renewables, reducing greenhouse emissions by 260,000 tonnes of C02-e every year.

Provided by Red Energy, the 240GWh of clean power is equivalent to powering 48,000 homes with renewables or removing the emissions from 90,000 cars every year.

Initiated by and facilitated with the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances, VECO recognises the benefits of renewable energy for the environment and the economy.

The groundbreaking project will reduce each of the council’s current energy bills and reduce electricity prices by using clean renewable energy generated in Victoria.

VECO will create savings for councils on their electricity bills, based on current costs which will vary across councils based on energy needs.

Macedon Ranges

VECO will save Macedon Ranges Shire Council more than 40 per cent each year on electricity bills, based on costs in current contracts.

By joining the project, MRSC will source its electricity needs for council-operated buildings, public lighting and markets through renewable energy generators. This reduces emissions from council’s operations by about 3385 tonnes CO2-e / year.

This emissions reduction equates to powering 620 houses with renewable energy, or taking 1170 internal combustion engine cars off the road each year.

Macedon Ranges mayor Jennifer Anderson said signing on to VECO was the next step in achieving the actions set out in the Climate Change Action Plan that the council adopted in 2017.

“In the long term, taking action to mitigate against climate change will have broad ranging benefits for the safety and security of the community,” she said.

Mount Alexander

By signing on, Mount Alexander Shire Council will power 100 per cent of its total electricity use with 100 per cent renewables. This includes streetlights, public toilets and facilities such as the civic centre, Castlemaine Town Hall, community buildings and the Castlemaine Library.

“As of January next year, we anticipate to have zero-emissions electricity for all council-managed operations, cutting out over 700 tonnes of greenhouse emissions per year. We also anticipate significant savings on our electricity bills – so it’s a win-win situation,” MASC CEO Darren Fuzzard said.

“When council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 we committed to urgent action on climate change.

“We are also working with the community on the development of the shire’s ZNET Community Transition Plan.”


For Hepburn Shire, it will meaning powering 60 per cent of its total energy use with 100 per cent renewables. This will include streetlights, libraries and community buildings. The council is looking to source its remaining electricity load from other renewable energy suppliers.

“Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and prior to that and since then has been leading the way with initiatives such as the Z-NET Hepburn Community Transition Plan, Solar Savers, Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy, Major Road Lighting upgrades, our first electric vehicle and charging station, and other key actions identified in the Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap,” the mayor Cr Lesley Hewitt said.

“Joining VECO is a natural extension of our work to reduce local emissions, with the added benefit of savings on our energy bills.”

Red Energy will provide 240 GWh of electricity per year to the VECO purchasing group over 9.5 years, from July 2021. Mount Alexander Shire Council will join this contract beginning January 2022.

Owned by Snowy Hydro, Red Energy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated energy retailer based in Melbourne.

Two wind farms in Victoria will provide the renewable energy. Dundonnell wind farm near Mortlake is one, which began exporting power to the grid in March 2020. The second is Murra Warra II wind farm near Horsham which will be fully operational by June 2022.