CAIRNS Regional Council’s environmental credentials have gone under the solar-powered spotlight before a statewide coalition of climate-wise local governments.

Deputy Mayor Terry James fronted a welcoming party in Brisbane for new members of the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership yesterday, alongside Brisbane, Logan City and Sunshine Coast councils.

Cr James said the council was well on its way to achieving its target of a 50 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, compared to 2007 levels.

“We’ve done a fair amount of work for that and we’ve ended up with about a megawatt of solar power,” he said.

“That saves us about $350,000 a year and pays for itself after about four years.”

The rooftop solar generation Cr James referred to includes 3700 panels installed last year alone, but the council has also replaced traditional street lamps with energy-efficient LED lighting.

Lighting in parks has been gradually replaced with solar-powered lamps, operational efficiency at larger council-owned facilities has improved and the council has added hybrid cars to its fleet as older vehicles have been retired. “Those electric hybrid vehicles save us a fortune,” Cr James said.

“Our fuel consumption has reduced by 32 per cent since 2013-14, just through hybrid cars.”

Cr James pointed to the council’s annual ECOfiesta sustainable living festival as further evidence of its commitment to going green.

He said the shift was both financially and environmentally motivated.

“We’re in the same boat as the average ratepayer, fighting all the electricity bills every time we get one,” he said.

“We’ve got to the point where we’ve halted the increase of our electricity charges.

“We’re managing to keep that there and that’s how we’ve ended up with our 1.5 per cent rate increases we’ve had over the last few years, which is less than CPI.”

This article first appeared in the Courier-Mail on 29 January 2018

Cities Power Partnership  Climate Council

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