Melbourne consortium forms to drive renewable investment

(L-R) Samantha Ratnam, Moreland City Council; Bernadene Voss, City of Port Phillip; Ron Gauci, Fed Square; Allan Tait, University of Melbourne; Arron Wood and Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne; Harry Drakos, NAB;  Damien Walsh, Bank Australia; Phillip Hall, NEXTDC.
(L-R) Samantha Ratnam, Moreland City Council; Bernadene Voss, City of Port Phillip; Ron Gauci, Fed Square; Allan Tait, University of Melbourne; Arron Wood and Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne; Harry Drakos, NAB; Damien Walsh, Bank Australia; Phillip Hall, NEXTDC.

Melbourne businesses, councils, universities and cultural institutions have banded together to directly procure a renewable energy supply.

The City of Melbourne-led Melbourne Renewable Energy Project will see the consortium directly purchase 120 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity for its operations, equivalent to the energy produced by 15 wind turbines or 250,000 solar panels.

Other consortium members are the University of Melbourne, RMIT, National Australia Bank, NEXTDC, the City of Port Phillip, Moreland City Council, Federation Square, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Citywide and Bank Australia (formerly bankmecu).

Launching the project on Monday, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the Australian-first project would see electricity purchased at a competitive price to that from the grid.

“I think this is the first time in Australia where levels of government, business and cultural partners have come together to create a new business model for renewable energy. It shows that cities are nimble and can form remarkable partnerships,” Mr Doyle said.

“We have tested the market and we found that renewable energy could be purchased through this model at a competitive price. It may be a small project in the scheme of energy around the state, but it’s a great Melbourne model that people can use.”

Mr Doyle also said the project would create around 140 jobs during the construction phase, and 12 ongoing jobs during operation and management.

The project will be crucial to the City of Melbourne in reaching its 25 per cent renewables goal by 2018 and its zero net emissions goal by 2020. It is expected to lead to a reduction of 151,200 tonnes of carbon emissions a year for the consortium.

The project was first flagged last year when the consortium members began a request for information process to test the market.

City of Melbourne’s environment portfolio chair Arron Wood said the initial request for information resulted in widespread interest from Australian and international companies in the wind, solar and biomass sectors.

“We’re now challenging the market to supply us with the right energy at the right price,” Mr Wood said.

“We’re not only expecting a really good project in terms of environmental outcomes but also in terms of business impacts.”

At the time of the initial request for information, Mirvac was signed on as part of the consortium, though its name has now dropped off the list in the updated release.

A spokeswoman from Mirvac told The Fifth Estate the company remained committed to the process, however.

“Being part of a joint tender is a detailed process with a number of commercial sensitivities, and our discussions with the City of Melbourne are ongoing,” she said.

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