Rethinking The Grid
Published on 20 February 2023
Rethinking The Grid: Northern Grampians Shire Council stands for energy security and affordability.
Northern Grampians Shire Council is developing a Renewable Energy Transition Action Plan aimed at addressing the limitations of the power grid, uncertainty within pricing, and LNG and LPG gas supply risks. With interest accelerating at national level, the timely introduction of sound renewable energy transition and development will drive economic growth and innovation in the shire, providing businesses with energy security and affordability.
The desperate need for a decentralised energy grid through new transmission infrastructure has both repelled investment and held back the expansion of local industries in the area. Situated near the end of the grid, far from coal-fired and gas-powered generation facilities and the load-consuming centre in metropolitan Melbourne, parts of Northern Grampians Shire have been plagued by power outages and limited network capacity for decades, forcing major industries to absorb the costs of network augmentation and onsite energy generation into development costs.
Supporting economic development and driving innovation in this field has become a hallmark of Northern Grampians Shire Council’s initiative, as shown by their on the ground efforts to establish the Bulgana Green Power Hub and its landmark behind-the-meter power purchase agreement.
The council developed the draft plan in consultation with local industry, targeting energy-intensive construction, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and tourism businesses.
Shane Coleman, Site Manager at Ridley Agriproducts’ St Arnaud facility, who was consulted during the draft plan industry consultation process, emphasised the importance of Northern Grampians Shire Council creating a development framework to support businesses with the renewable energy transition.
“Ridley was happy to be asked to participate in the consultation phase of the council’s initiative to create a framework to support business with renewable energy transition…It’s great to see the council taking a proactive approach with the introduction of a plan addressing these kinds of issues and providing support to local businesses, “ Mr Coleman asserted.
“Ridley’s processing mills are a major local employer, with operations reliant on electricity, gas and road freight. Like many businesses, Ridley is considering where we can do things in a more energy efficient way. This includes undertaking an energy audit at the St Arnaud site to identify ways we may be able to reduce energy use, move freight more efficiently, reduce waste and make significant savings in operating costs.”
With their initial plan in its draft phase, council plans to work closely with the wider community to shape the shire’s renewable energy transition, calling for stakeholders to engage and participate in the process through survey opportunities and workshops as they arise.
“The rapid shift away from fossil fuel energy generation to renewable energy creates both challenges and opportunities for local businesses and the wider community. As a region that is abundantly rich in wind and solar resources, council seeks to prepare a framework to guide the development of new renewable energy projects to ensure they add to our economic and social prosperity,” Cr Erwin, Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council, explained.
“This is underpinned by the need to give the community a greater say by identifying where development is appropriate in maintaining our local amenity, how support can assist exposed industries with transition; pathway opportunities for developing new jobs and skills; and wider community benefit initiatives that retain a share of the proceeds in the communities where energy is generated.”
Northern Grampians Shire Council encourages feedback on the Draft Renewable Energy Transition Plan. For further information, to download a copy of the draft document, and to complete the survey, please visit www.ngshire.vic.gov.au/Projects-and-Consultation/Have-Your-Say/Renewable-Energy-Transition-Action-Plan
For further information contact:
Media & Communications Officer – Lauren Shipman