A NSW Government website

AdaptNSW logo AdaptNSW NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Lachlan Shire Council embracing a new R: rates, roads, rubbish AND renewables

About this case study

Climate change effect Energy security
Who it affects Local Government, businesses, communities
Adaptation tool(s) Sustainability

Find out how the Lachlan Shire Council is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and saving money by using renewable energy and energy-efficient products

With vision, commitment and a sustainable energy plan, Lachlan Shire Council has gone from zero capacity to energy hero. Council has proven it is adaptive, resilient and committed to building a better future for the community it serves. 

- Grant Christopherson, Sustainable Councils and Communities Program, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Lachlan Shire Council lies at the heart of New South Wales. Spanning nearly 15,000 square kilometres of rich red earth, and intersected by the Lachlan River, the shire has a population of 6,200 and Condobolin, the shire’s largest town, is home to Council’s offices.

Like most small local governments with large geographical footprints, Lachlan Shire Council’s full-time focus was on roads, rates and rubbish. The community was also dealing with one of the worst droughts in 100 years.

In 2019, with the help of the NSW Government’s Sustainable Councils and Communities (SCC) program, Council identified a range of projects that promised to save nearly $960,000, cut carbon emissions and create local jobs.

With the help of SCC-commissioned energy consultant ChargeWorks, Council secured $1.1 million in federal government funding and immediately set to work.

Lachlan Shire Council’s energy sustainability plan uncovered $960,000 of savings across a range of projects, from solar installations to new energy contracts. By investing in energy saving projects, we will save our ratepayers $1,000 a day, every day. That’s $360,000 a year – and it hasn’t cost our community a cent said Mayor John Medcalf, OAM.

As a water and sewer authority and a community service provider, Council was importing more than $1 million in energy each year – most of it sourced from the electricity grid and liquid fossil fuels.

Switching fluorescent lighting to energy efficient LEDs at Council’s Condobolin administration building trimmed around $15,000 a year from the expenses and reduced energy consumption by 40MWh.

A solar and battery project at the Lake Cargelligo pumping station is saving another $50,000 a year.

And after negotiating a new energy contract, Council saved more than $88,000 in 2020, and expects this to escalate to nearly $159,000 in annual savings by the end of 2022.

As a percentage, we’ve reduced Lachlan Shire Council’s power bill by 25 per cent. It’s a big number. The combined multiplier effect of these projects is even more impressive. Every taxpayer dollar spent will return $121 to the local community.

- Grant Christopherson, Sustainable Councils and Communities Program, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

A massive $590,000 of savings have already been initiated. These economic savings – amounting to $1,000 a day – are important to a council on a tight budget. But the benefits stretch far beyond dollars. There are the environmental benefits – with 800 tonnes of emissions prevented from entering the atmosphere each year.

There are also vital social benefits. “Council’s proactive and creative projects are making a real difference to the Lachlan Shire community, demonstrating leadership in sustainability and boosting the morale and wellbeing of staff,” Grant says. 

The employment story is just as impressive, with Council intentionally scoping projects so local tradespeople could play a role. Even the largest project, the $600,000 the solar installation at the local water pumping station, has attracted interest from local suppliers.

Once the projects are complete, the team will establish measurement and monitoring systems so Council can track the savings in real time.

Spurred on by these achievements, Council is now aiming to reduce electricity imports by 12 per cent by 2022. It also plans to increase the proportion of renewable energy by 25 per cent by 2025, while also slashing carbon dioxide emissions by 385 tonnes. Looking long-term, Council is moving towards net zero emissions.

Grant says Lachlan Shire Council is a true regional success story that points to the potential for local governments to become energy exporters. 

“Our state’s regions import $6 billion of fuel into their local government areas each year. There is a huge opportunity, through renewable energy, to enhance regional resilience and create more jobs in our own backyards.”

Resources

Energy Sustainability Plan - NSW Lachlan Shire Council

 

This project was proudly funded by the NSW Government with support from Local Government NSW.