THE State’s Environment Minister Mark Speakman joined Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall in Uralla to launch the blueprint for what could be Australia’s first renewable energy self-sufficient town.
The first town-scale energy blueprint, has been developed for Uralla with energy savings forecast of up to 70 per cent.
“The aim of the blueprint is to identify how an Australian community could satisfy all its energy needs from renewable energy, in a way that is competitive in terms of price, quality, security, and reliability,” Mr Speakman said.
“Funded through the Government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan, the Zero Net Energy Town (ZNET) blueprint has the potential to attract renewable energy investment, build community support and increase local renewable energy expertise.
“The Uralla project has been an exciting and ambitious challenge with the blueprint providing a model for other NSW towns.
“Uralla has about 2,500 energy customers spending approximately $12 million per year to meet their energy needs.”
Mr Marshall said the blueprint suggested that by applying cost-effective energy efficiency actions, such as the replacement of hot water units, and combining these with the installation of residential solar panels, could save the community up to $2.2 million per year.
“For Uralla Shire, this action alone could save 15.7 per cent of its total energy consumption with a significant portion of remaining energy consumption being sourced from on-site renewable generation,” Mr Marshall said.
“The most financially attractive options are residential solar, lighting and hot water unit upgrades which could reduce energy demand by 20 per cent and result in savings of up to $1,000 per household and $3,000 per business each year.”
Mr Marshall said the blueprint suggests that Uralla could generate 40-70 per cent of its energy goals within 5 years, by using available programs and commercially proven products, through energy savings and small scale renewable energy generation.
“The blueprint also outlines how Uralla could become fully self-sufficient on renewable energy, by developing town-scale renewable energy generation, which is incredibly exciting,” Mr Marshall said.
The project has gained interest from other towns, with more than 20 contacting the project co-ordinator Starfish Initiatives, to express interest in taking part in a similar project.
Mr Speakman and Mr Marshall congratulated everyone involved in the development of the blueprint, and the leadership of Uralla Shire Council, which has the potential to place Uralla at the forefront of energy innovation in Australia.
“This initiative again confirms the vast potential and support for renewable energy projects throughout the Northern Tablelands region,” Mr Marshall said.
Photo caption: Uralla Shire Mayor Michael Pearce, left, Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall, Minister of Environment and Heritage Mark Speakman and ZNET Uralla Reference Group Chair Sandra Eady pictured at the blueprint launch this morning.