Arron Wood

Sustainable Business and Education Leader

Melbourne Renewable Energy Project/Best Day Ever

Last Thursday was the formal launch of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP), also known in simpler terms as One of the Best Days Ever.

City of Melbourne has partnered with 13 other local governments, businesses, cultural and educational institutions, to collectively purchase large scale renewable energy through a group purchasing model.

Led by us, the purchasing group includes Australia Post, NAB, the University of Melbourne, RMIT, Federation Square, NEXTDC, Zoos Victoria, the City of Port Phillip, Moreland City Council, the City of Yarra, Citywide, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Bank Australia.

The company chosen to deliver this project, Pacific Hydro, will build a wind farm near Ararat. This partnership will purchase more than 88GWh of energy, which is the equivalent to powering more than 17,000 households in Melbourne for a year. It will also save 96,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere per year. That’s as much as 22,000 cars off the road.

The great thing about MREP is that rather than getting bogged down with toxic or overly philosophical debates about climate change and renewable energy, we have gotten on with it. It’s sad but true to consider that had we waited for more decisive action from the Federal government, we’d still be waiting. The political landscape hasn’t shifted much compared to three years ago. In the same time that our politicians have persisted with their version of a robust debate, we created a project that is positive, tangible and practical. There is going to be a wind farm built by us! We are going to be able to drive past that with our families, point to it, and say ‘we helped make that happen.’

MREP bypassed the political debate on climate change because it was more important to do less talking and take action on something that ticks all the boxes. What we now have is a project that is economically sound while lowering carbon emissions and driving renewable energy into the grid. We really have achieved the whole trifecta.

An important goal for me was to demonstrate that environmentally intelligent decisions can make the most business sense too. It doesn’t always have to be an either/or situation. This point matters: rather than having arguments about who has the best intentions or debating how to balance different motivating factors, MREP covers all bases. You can interrogate this project from an environmental or financial lens and still come out with the same result: this will successfully cut costs AND carbon emissions. Everybody really does win.

Today we are looking at MREP as innovative and ground breaking but as I have always said, the real power of this project will be in its replication. This is a great example of how businesses and government can partner together to change the energy mix. I look forward to the day when this partnership procurement for renewables becomes even more commonplace than we could have ever imagined.

Are you inspired to create a partnership to increase renewables? City of Melbourne also published a guide, sharing our story and the process to make it easier for future projects which is available on our website.