CVGA April Newsletter
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Welcome to our CVGA Newsletter

April 2017

A Renewable Energy Boom, directly comparable with the Mining Boom we've heard so much about, has commenced in Victoria (and around Australia). The resources at stake are different (sunshine, wind and waste instead of iron and coal) but the dynamics are virtually the same.

The responsibility to ensure we don't get caught up in focusing on short-term investment benefits at the expense of a 30+ year operational phase lies with us, (for my short article on the three phases of the Boom Cycle and how they might impact us, see here). We need access to good information, good models for structuring these deals and some common principals to ensure the long-term economic development potential of these projects is maximised and not lost in the rush for the investment dollar.

As many of you are already aware, as with the Mining Boom we're talking very substantial investment. Councils have an opportunity to transform the economic profile of some regions in our municipalities if we are careful, well-informed and consistent in our approach.

The Victorian Greenhouse Alliances (representing 74 of Victoria's 79 local governments) has been effectively preparing for the beginning of this cycle for over ten years. There is a deep understanding of the dynamics of the renewable energy industry from a local government perspective spread across the ten Alliances.

The Renewable Energy Boom is going to develop EXTREMELY QUICKLY now that the pricing disparities between fossil and renewable energies have become clear in the market (whatever the federal government is saying). The increase in the scale of current and putative investment in this sector represents a financial wave we'd better be ready to ride!

So, what are some things local governments can do now to start preparing for this Boom Cycle? 

This question was the driver for the recent CVGA Energy Procurement Members Forum held in Bendigo in March. Most CVGA Councils had representatives attending and the discussion was exciting and not a little mind-expanding!

Scott McKenry from the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (EAGA), who has been taking the lead for the 10 Victorian Greenhouse  Alliances, presented findings from our research over the past twelve months. Key lessons include:

1. Get your house in order!

Your current contracts do not maximise your current energy spend, and they certainly don't into the future. Current contracts through Procurement Australia (PA) or the MAV do not provide you with real options for holding your retailers accountable, maximising the non-grid energy options or providing feedback on your energy consumption that could collectively cut your energy costs in the next few years by between 20 and 30 percent.

Given all but one of the CVGA's Councils will be renegotiating energy procurement contracts in the next 18 months (and some of you in the nest 12 weeks), now is a good time to think about the criteria you would like your procurement agents to consider (Procurement Australia or the MAV) to start considering. 

Competition in the energy sector is hot and the range of options available to Councils is very broad. Properly calibrated, these options could help Council fulfill on some of the following policy objectives:

  • cost-cutting
  • renewable energy investment (both private sector and Council-owned)
  • environmental targets (including but not limited to Green House Gas Emissions targets)
  • contract accountability

There are huge price and, perhaps more importantly, delivery structure changes underway in the energy market. Ensuring the PA or MAV include the appropriate Tender Evaluation Criteria is critical if Councils are going to maximise the current and future value of their energy procurement contracts. 

The Victorian Greenhouse Alliances have been working on developing appropriate Tender Evaluation Criteria for the past twelve months and will be in a position to make some proposals to your contract negotiation teams in the very near future. 

2. Make sure your Economic Development Units and Planning Departments are conscious of these developments and the impact they could have on your municipality.

Councils should really be considering how to ensure that the community and the municipality capture the benefits of the boom, and that they do not all get distributed to non-regional, and in most cases, non-Australian private businesses.

3. Look beyond wind and solar.

There are now options with extremely good economic returns available to Councils in the waste space.

For example, the CVGA Energy from Waste Micro-Power Station Network project (developed in partnership with Hepburn Shire Council and funded by DEWLP, the City of Ballarat and the Shire of Macedon Ranges) has a putative four year pay-back for Councils and an ROI of over 20%.

This project leverages the ground-breaking work done by Hepburn Shire which is at the EOI stage of implementation while the CVGA just recently submitted an EOI for $900,000 funding from Sustainability Victoria to help build a gasification plant at the Hepburn Transfer station and the second stage of implementation for five CVGA member Councils. 

The point I want you to take away is that we are in the first stage of a Renewable Energy Boom and we need to get ready quickly or we will simply sell-away the benefits and regret it for the next 30 years. This will happen very fast. My guess, the majority of investment deals will be locked-in within 3-5 years. After that, if Councils have not negotiated good deals, it will be essentially too late to change them (like we're seeing federally in the Natural gas sector right now).  

We need good information and we need to be prepared to negotiate good deals.

Your Alliance is a great source of information and support in this process. We've spent fifteen years, funded by you, essentially preparing for this time. 

Please use us!

If you want more direct information relevant to these topics, call me directly and attend the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances Conference on May 12th (see article below).

Sonny Neale
Executive officer CVGA

Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Regional Projects List

The Victorian State Government has recently legislated the Victorian Climate Change Adaption Plan to drive action towards achieving a zero net emissions target by 2050. DEWLP is keen on identifying partners to help coordinate delivery of the plan and the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances are currently discussing partnership options to represent our member councils to directly deliver adaptation projects in our regions. 

Over a number of weeks now the Alliances have been working with Councils to develop a list of projects to present to DEWLP and to the Renewable Energy Advocate (Simon Corbel). Over 60 projects were presented by the 13 CVGA member Councils.  We obviously have not been able to capture all the projects presented, but have tried to get the big projects that are:
  • implementable in the near term (this election cycle)
  • fit the criteria for the newly legislated Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Plan
  • have broad support amongst our 13 Councils
CVGA are taking project registrations. For the current list of projects, please visit our website

Heatwave Health

The Heatwave Health website is ready to go live and we need your feedback.

All the collateral, policies, training modules etc. that have been developed over the past five years through the combined efforts of eight Councils and the CVGA, is now available as "open source'' information to all Councils in Victoria (and potentially beyond).


  • Heatwave Kits
  • Carers Manuals
  • Website Development Framework
  • Education and Communications Program
  • Heatwave Emergency Management Policy Template (to be uploaded)
  • Training Videos and Training Collateral
Under the auspices of the City of Greater Bendigo (who developed the majority of the IP and collateral), all participating councils asked the Alliance to ensure that this information remains available to councils and is kept “alive” for the use of current and future municipalities. We will also explore the possibility of extending the availability of this information to non-council groups.

The website ncludes:
  1. "Members Only" area for information pertinent only to Councils and other agencies (such as the Planning and Policy Templates and training manuals etc.) and;
  2.  “Public” section that provides the information, videos and downloads that will be useful to people vulnerable to heatwaves.
Please see the new Heat Health website and provide your feedback to Sandra Ryan:

Visit the Heat Wave Health site here

Articles from our Network

Solar $avers - removing barriers to solar for low-income households

Funded by the state government and local councils and delivered by four Victorian Greenhouse Alliances (including the CVGA), Solar $avers is a pioneering approach aimed at supporting low-income pensioner households to install quality, affordable solar systems with no upfront costs.

Scaling up the City of Darebin’s successful program, Solar $avers will be progressively rolled out across 20 Victorian municipalities through to June 2019. 

The goal of the project is to prove the viability of the model so that it can be extended to provide support to the 74,000 Victorian households who are rates relief listed and for whom the commercial market is unlikely to provide the financial and security benefits of solar energy. 

The CVGA is currently interviewing for a Sustainable Environment Officer to help deliver the project out of our office in Castlemaine. Applications are now closed.

Visit our website for the full article. For more information, contact the Project Manager Karl Barratt on 0418 189 019 or

$900,000 CVGA Expression of Interest to the Sustainability Victoria "Energy from Waste Infrastructure Fund"

The CVGA recently submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to help expand the existing Energy from Waste Micro-Power Station project to include injection of methane gas directly into existing gas infrastructure (pipes) and its extraction anywhere in the state, as well as the construction of the first phase of the Micro- power Station Network (i.e. 5 micro-turbines behind-the-meter in five buildings, one in each participating municipality)

The facility would turn an already transformational local government renewable energy project into a main-stream energy options for not only local governments, but commercial operators, hospitals, schools etc. 

The CVGA and partner Councils (Hepburn Shire Council, Mount Alexander Shire Council, Pyrenees Shire Council, Central Goldfields Shire Council and the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, with the support of both the Grampians Central West and the Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Groups) will receive confirmation to go ahead with developing a full application in the next few weeks with the application itself due June 2nd.

Victoria's Climate Change Framework

TAKE2 – Acting Now on Climate Change provides an overview of actions being taken by the Victorian Government, local governments, the community and businesses to reduce emissions under the umbrella of the TAKE2 pledge program. This includes the Government's commitment to reduce reported emissions from its own operations by 30 per cent below 2015 levels by 2020. TAKE2 has released groundbreaking research about Victorians’ attitudes towards climate change. This study will confirm the importance and relevance of the work your organisation is already doing to help keep the temperature rise under two degrees.

The Framework and TAKE2 summary are available at

Sustainability Victoria - Grants Open

Waste Education Grants - register your interest in receiving information about Sustainability Victoria’s three new Waste Education Grants programs: Improving Resource Recovery, Love Food Hate Waste Local Engagement Support and Litter and Illegal Dumping. Visit website for details.

Social Impact Investment for Sustainability provides a combination of grant money and low interest loan. Investment ready social enterprises can apply for up to $200 000 as a combination grant and low interest loan (2.5%) to scale up (expand) their operations. Visit website for details.

Energy Assessment Grants are available to businesses with less than 200 full time employees, spending over $20,000 a year on energy bills. Visit website for details.

Workshops & Events

The next CVGA Members' Forum will be in May (date to be advised) on the topic of Electric Vehicles. Invitations will be forwarded closer to the date.

12 May 2017- Victorian Greenhouse Alliances Conference

The Victorian Greenhouse Alliances Conference 2017 brings together local government leaders at a critical time to develop smart, substantial and sustainable responses to climate change. We're bringing together experts from across Victoria and Australia to identify what we do well as local government and, more importantly, what’s next.

This full day conference includes specialist sessions for strategic and statutory planners, capital works, open space and sustainability teams. Sessions include:
  • What can Australia learn from German's energy transition?
  • Buying and Operating Large Scale Renewable Energy in Local Government
  • Divestment: How to Make it Happen in Practice
  • Talking Business: Successful Engagement on EUAs
  • Planning for Climate Change: Managing Urban Heat Impacts
  • Planning for Climate Change: Managing Future Energy Demands
  • Measure Once, Plan Twice: Measuring and Reporting Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Lighting the Way – New Technologies for Major Roads and Sporting Grounds
  • Generating Energy from Waste
  • Getting the Mix Right – Urban Greening and Biodiversity
This full-day conference will be closed by the Victorian Renewable Energy Advocate, Simon Corbell. To book your spot click here

Green with envy - What’s the Goss on your Neighbouring Council?

Each month CVGA will be reporting developments from local councils so you know what everyone's doing with their CO2 emissions.


Ganawarra Shire Council Solar Farm Development

Roger Griffiths, Manager of Economic Development from Gannawarra Shire Council, has been on a mission to facilitate the development of solar farms in his region. In partnership with City of Greater Bendigo and Loddon Shire Council, the Gannawarra Shire Council has developed a solar prospectus to promote their region for the development of large commercial scale solar farms. 

There are eight large solar farm projects in the wings with stage one ready to begin construction in May this year. The eight projects add up to 620MW across 4500 acres if they all reach implementation stage.

So far it has been five years in the making, in the last three years the proposals have gained traction. The solar farms will be located in the Kerang area – five projects south of Kerang, two projects south east of Kerang and one project west of Kerang. So far the Council has four project permits and two applications pending.

Stage one will be the construction of a 60MW solar farm. In the construction stage for Edify Energy, Roger estimates around 110 staff will be employed for 12 months with an estimated cost benefit of $5mil to the area. The Shire is looking at five possible stages, with each stage estimated to be of $5mil benefit to the Kerang area. 

Once the solar farms are up and running the team at Gannawarra Shire Council will be looking at developing base load capacity via a waste to energy system that utilises agricultural waste.

Read the full article in our member news on our website

Electricity retailer, Energy Australia supports Victoria's first commercial solar farm.

Energy Australia announced it had signed a long-term agreement to buy all the electricity generated by Victoria’s first large scale solar project, the Gannawarra Solar Farm. Energy Australia signed a 13-year power purchase agreement which will boost the development of the project, with construction starting in 2017 and completion in early 2018.

Edify Energy, an Australian renewable energy development and investment company, is working with EnergyAustralia and the people of Victoria to deliver the Gannawarra Solar Farm. For more information visit Edify Energy website.

Industry News

Large Scale Solar Farms in Victoria by 2018

Victoria is set to get its first large-scale solar plants with state funding of $500 million in a bid to meet a target of 40 per cent renewable electricity by 2025. Overland Sun Farming plans to start building three separate solar farms with a combined output of 320 megawatts, in northern Victoria by April this year.

The farms will be constructed in Wemen and two other sites in Mildura. The developers are looking to use local contractors and suppliers where ever possible. At its peak, the Wemen development will employ between 150-200 people during construction stage and three to five employees to manage the three sites once built.

The developers are planning to submit a tender to directly power the Melbourne tram system. The farms will provide power to Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat when operating at full capacity. This is great news for job creation, sustainability and a boost for renewable energy. Read the full Sydney Morning Herald news article here.  

The GPC Community Emissions Inventory and Report Package

There is now an internationally accepted reporting standard for councils (called the GPC), access to broader national and localised data sets, and international reporting platforms for councils to report on their climate performance, commitment and action. Ironbark can now offer Australian councils a GPC-compliant Community Emissions Inventory and Report Package for $4,950. 

Subsidy from ICLEI Oceania
The standard cost for the GPC Community Emissions Inventory and Report Package is $4,950. However, until mid-April 2017, ICLEI Oceania will provide a $2,000 reduction to the package for the first 10 councils who also commit to joining the Compact of Mayors. This reduces the overall cost to $2,950.

ICLEI Oceania are also offering councils a free assessment to determine the work and resources required for your council through the Compact stages.

For more information visit Ironbark Sustainability website.

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