A number of significant solar farms for the region may be in the wings.
But on a smaller scale, Greater Shepparton City Council has pulled the trigger on $225 500 to install solar panels on its own facilities to help cut costs amid the climbing price of power.
And Shepparton, once known as the solar city, may one day be the solar-powered city, with hopes for more council assets to progressively turn to renewables.
Councillors this week commended the spend for the lump sum contract for solar installation on council buildings.
Cr Bruce Giovanetti said councillors were aware electricity costs were set to climb in the next year.
‘‘It’s great to see council is taking a proactive approach to ensuring we can reduce energy consumption costs as much as we can,’’ he said.
‘‘Hopefully this is just stage one of a number of stages of solar panels on council buildings.’’
Cr Dinny Adem added he was glad to see the transition ‘‘finally taking place’’ to reduce energy costs and the city’s carbon footprint.
‘‘I’m very pleased to see that moving forward,’’ he said.
Following this week’s council meeting, Mayor Kim O’Keeffe argued ‘‘every dollar counts’’ and that the council needed cut costs where possible.
‘‘In this space it is something we need to do,’’ she said.
‘‘Because costs are going to come up against other things that we may have to compromise with. ‘‘This is a great start.’’
In November last year, the council predicted the amount it paid for power might increase by up to 50 or 60 per cent in coming years.
A parliamentary inquiry in Shepparton into the health of regional councils’ finances last year heard from council representatives the impact rising power prices had on finances.
While acknowledging the significant price increases experienced, the council said it was on the front foot in managing energy use.
Council’s environment manager Greg McKenzie at the time said energy reduction measures integrated as part of a council plan were expected to reduce energy consumption by 8.5 per cent through to 2020 from 2014 levels.
Mr McKenzie said council energy usage had been predominantly in decline since 2010 and would continue to be, despite major new infrastructure projects in the wings, including the new Shepparton Art Museum and Cosgrove Three landfill.
But despite the decline in use, costs were climbing.
‘‘We recognise that even though our energy usage is declining, our costs continue to rise,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
‘‘The major issue is the volatility of the market. (This is) why council has an energy reduction plan.’’
Story by Thomas Moir from the Shepparton News - “Stumping up for solar switch.”