A national summit will be held today to examine how local governments can drive a clean economic recovery in Australia.
State and local government representatives, as well as business and energy experts, will join community members to discuss solutions to get Australians back to work and tackle long term challenges like climate change.
The virtual summit, Re-energise Australia: A Clean Jobs Summit, hosted by the Cities Power Partnership, will look to define
opportunities for local government to create thousands of jobs and generate investment to local regions.
Australian Capital Territory former deputy chief minister, Simon Corbell, said cities and regions have enormous capacity to drive a clean, locally-led economic recovery.
“From energy to transport, local governments have an abundance of opportunities to deliver projects to prop up local businesses and decarbonise communities, while creating local jobs,” Corbell said.
"The ACT and Victorian reverse auction programs to source renewable energy are strong examples of this. These projects required Australian-made content, which helped spur the expansion of traineeships and apprenticeships in manufacturing businesses, and has seen the old Ford auto factory in Geelong recommissioned as a wind turbine assembly facility.
“The Melbourne Renewable Energy Project led by the City of Melbourne is another initiative that created new jobs in renewable energy and low cost, clean energy for businesses located in the Melbourne CBD.”
Energy Efficiency Council senior manager of projects and partnerships, Holly Taylor, said ocal councils could create jobs, stimulate local economies and unlock significant savings by implementing an energy efficiency strategy.
“While energy efficiency isn’t as sexy as solar panels on roofs, or as obvious as wind turbines on rolling hills, it is a real jobs machine,” Taylor said.
“Efficiency retrofits consistently top the charts in comprehensive analyses of energy-related stimulus options by organisations such as the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.
“Orange City Council, for example, is going to save $170,000 in annual electricity costs, as well as $34,000 in maintenance costs, just by upgrading its lighting to LED in all of its buildings. They’ve also created local jobs in the process.”
Independent Federal Member for Indi, Helen Haines, said regional Australia was hungry for a practical plan of action for a community-led transition.
“In north east Victoria, communities are working in partnership with commercial developers and local councils to develop mini-grids, solar panels, hydro projects and community batteries,” she said.
“Together, they are growing access to cheap, clean, local power, and securing the energy supply for bushfire-prone towns.
“Shepparton Council is developing a new solar farm that will power 10,000 local homes in collaboration with a local community energy group. The project will not only create a new revenue stream for council, but will lower local energy prices,keep profits in the town and generate local jobs quickly.”
Haines said Australia has seen steep job losses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but with a targeted strategy to support community-owned and community-driven renewable energy, local governments can create thousands of jobs, tackle
climate change and secure a generation of prosperity.