Have your say: Forbes council's plan to reduce power costs, carbon footprint

Installing PV solar systems is a significant part of the action plan to reduce council's power costs and carbon footprint.

Installing PV solar systems is a significant part of the action plan to reduce council's power costs and carbon footprint.

Forbes Shire Council has outlined its plans to reduce energy use and costs over the next eight years, and now's the time for residents to have their say.

Actions range from installing solar PV to trialling an electric street sweeper over the next decade.

Council currently spends about $936,000 a year on electricity with more than half of that the cost of pumping and treating water and sewage.

Public lighting accounts for 14 per cent of our costs, and community buildings including the saleyards and pool another 21 per cent.

The first stages of the action plan that's now for community comment would see council install LED lights in streetlights and at sports fields, and solar panels at the water filtration and sewage plants, Town Hall and the council-owned caravan park.

They're part of achieving the target of reducing reducing council's gross grid consumption by 21 per cent and its net grid consumption by 33 per cent.

In the longer term, the council will look to produce more solar power and to enter a power purchase agreement with at least 50 per cent renewable energy, increasing that as soon as it's economically viable.

Electronic vehicles in the council fleet and locations for local charging stations are also part of the big picture.

"While the market for electric vehicles is still in its infancy, Australia is home to leading manufacturers of electric heavy vehicles that are suitable for council operations," the strategy explains.

"In 2022 council [plans to conduct a trial of an all-electric street sweeper truck.

"This will have the added benefit of being far quieter than the existing diesel vehicles.

"The substantial operational savings of this EV should achieve a lower total cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle."

The council plans to provide electric vehicle charging adjacent to Victoria Park, where there are already public amenities for visitors, and to attract private charging infrastructure providers to Forbes.

The Lawler Street carpark, Spring Street centre parking and the free Lake-side camping area are identified in the plan as suitable for electric vehicle charging stations, and it's highlighted that this will also be a drawcard for visitors.

The council has already been able to shave nine per cent or $221,371 off its power costs for 2020-2022 through a joint organisation of councils agreement.

It's expected the solar PV installations proposed will generate 335MWh or nine per cent of council's annual use, saving $53,040 per annum.

There's room for solar PV systems at the Central West Livestock Exchange and sewage treatment plant that could generate more power than those sites could use, which could be credited to other council sites.

As part of the plan, half of the council's energy savings will be invested in future energy projects.

You can find council's Energy Action Plan on the council website forbes.nsw.gov.au under public exhibitions in the "council" section of the website.

Submissions addressed to the General Manager can be either emailed to forbes@forbes.nsw.gov.au or posted to PO Box 333, Forbes NSW 2871 by 5pm, Thursday August 12.

For more information, please contact Council's Acting Manager of Planning, Rory Duggan, on 6850 2300.