USUALLY councils are powered by bright ideas from within the chambers.
But Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) could soon be powered the sunny skies above with a plan in the works for Ray Walsh House to make the switch to solar power.
The installation won’t take council’s Tamworth headquarters completely off-the-grid, but it is another sign TRC is committed to reducing its environmental footprint.
Councillors will vote on the proposal at their meeting on Tuesday with some key financial benefits laid out, including a saving of $84,000 a year on energy bills.
The upgrade would also save “the approximate energy used in 21 standard homes” and “prevent the release of 402 tonnes of carbon dioxide” in to the atmosphere each year, according to the report.
The project has an estimated budget of $248,000.
Starfish Enterprises executive director Adam Blakester said the financial benefit for sustainable energy was “stacking up” for more organisations and businesses.
“When the financial side stacks up, most tend to to get on board,” Mr Blakester told The Leader.
“There’s not many people who want to waste money.”
The rural sustainability advocate said solar power could be “as much as 75 per cent cheaper compared to the grid” and called on businesses which haven’t looked at solar in a few years to “run the numbers again”.
TRC has rolled out a few projects in recent months in a bid to reduce its emissions and power costs, while Mr Blakester applauded council for its initiatives, he said there was a long way to go.
“There’s a very large gap that we have to cover,” he said.
“Looking at warming, pressures on water, water for cities and agriculture, I don’t think anyone is in the zone.”
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said council’s sustainability was the result of messages coming back through community consultation.
Cr Murray flagged more projects down the track, including “potential opportunities” to power the region’s sewerage pumps with solar power.
“I think TRC was not perceived to be a leader in this area,” he said.
“This helps us catch up somewhat.”
LED lights will soon be lighting the streets of Tamworth, as well as the halls of Ray Walsh House, following council’s $1.4 million decision.
TRC sustainability coordinator Tracey Carr said the projects are all about finding “environmental and financial benefits”.
Tamworth’s sustainable action
> Tamworth Regional Council defies critics moving towards sustainable future
Mayor Col Murray said it was great to see council adopt an environmentally sustainable future.
“We have received criticism in the past for not doing enough in terms of sustainability, so it’s pleasing to see these projects get up,” Cr Murray said. Read more.
> Tamworth Regional Council begins work on $800,000 gas capture project at the tip
THE region could only be years away from powering homes and potentially hospitals with rubbish fumes.
Works are currently under way at the Forest Rd landfill in Tamworth, where crews are drilling 33 gas wells, capturing methane given off from decomposing waste. Read more.
> Tamworth organic recycling facility planning begins
Tamworth Regional Council has begun work on its latest plan to make the region more sustainable, announcing a new organic recycling facility.
Funded in part by a $1.35m state government grant, the facility will extend the life of the Tamworth tip and allow council to process up to 32,000 tonnes of organic waste per annum. Read more.
> Tamworth Regional Council to investigate installing solar power at its sites
THE future for renewable energy is getting brighter in Tamworth as council looks at solar power for a number of its sites.
The solar push comes after a “successful trial” at the Swan St pump station, where Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) saved nearly $5000 off energy costs with the installation of solar panels.
TRC will now consider funding similar set-ups at the Westdale wastewater plant and the effluent reuse farm at New Winton, furthering its push toward a more sustainable Tamworth. Read more.