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CEFC launches $250m finance program to make councils greener

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The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has today launched a new $250 million finance program to help councils invest in clean technologies to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions.

The CEFC Local Government Finance Program is designed to provide “flexible and competitive fixed-rate, long-term finance tailored to the needs of Australian councils”.

To be eligible for finance, the total cost of a project (either single or part of a package of works) will need to be greater that $10 million, however multiple councils may enter into joint financing agreements that meet this threshold.

The finance can be drawn over three years and will provide access to fixed-rate senior debt for up to 10 years.

Projects that reduce emissions and/or provide a renewal source of energy are being targeted, including:

  • building upgrades and retrofits that improve energy efficiency
  • energy-from-waste projects
  • LED street lighting installations
  • projects that improve heating, ventilation and airconditioning, and provide renewable energy sources at leisure and aquatic centres (which are typically high energy users)
  • rooftop solar PV projects for council buildings
  • electric and low-emission vehicles (and related infrastructure, such as charging stations)

The CEFC said it would also consider other projects that cover renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-emissions technologies.

Launching the new program today, CEFC executive director for corporate and project finance Paul McCartney said: “Australia’s has more than 560 local councils, which spend more than $32 billion annually on housing and community amenities, as well as transport and communications infrastructure.

“The CEFC’s financing solutions can help councils proactively manage these costs, whether through reducing energy consumption in high-use areas such as leisure and aquatic centres or accessing fleet financing to enable the council’s conversion to electric vehicles.

“In a period of historically low interest rates, now is the time for councils to act to reduce energy costs and lock in the long term benefits of energy efficiency.”

He added that he hoped the program would help councils lower energy use, which in turn could reduce ongoing operating costs to the extent that it “may be sufficient for councils to repay the loan without impacting their net cash flows”.

“We see strong potential for operational savings through a range of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-emissions technologies. This program will provide councils with access to finance to help accelerate the adoption of these improvements,” Mr McCartney said.

He said that as well as working to ensure that council-owned street lighting was less energy intensive and council assets were taking advantage of renewable energy (such as rooftop solar), the body would be speaking with councils about “improving airconditioning, [and] installing smart controls and voltage optimisers to improve the energy efficiency and performance of their buildings”.

Councils wishing to secure finance under the CEFC Local Government Finance Program can email the CEFC local government team at: localgovernment@cleanenergyfinancecorp.com.au

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