Dozens of councils have signed up to the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO).

VECO is the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia, seeking to provide 45 per cent of all Victorian Councils’ electricity requirements with 100 per cent renewables, reducing greenhouse emissions by 260,000 tonnes of C02-e every year.

A total of 46 Victorian councils have joined the initiative.

Provided by Red Energy, the 240GWh of clean power will reduce each of the Council’s current energy bills and reduce electricity prices by using renewable energy generated in Victoria.

One of the local governments on the VECO scheme is Banyule Council in Melbourne’s north. 

Banyule Mayor Cr Rick Garotti says the VECO agreement is a monumental shift towards Banyule Council achieving its target of carbon neutrality by 2028, without the purchase of carbon offsets.

“We’re extremely proud to be part of this project and purchase 100 per cent of our electricity as renewable energy,” Cr Garotti said.

“The VECO project, along with our other power purchasing agreement and green initiatives, are expected to reduce Council greenhouse gas emissions by 54 per cent at no additional cost.

“It’s also helping to introduce more renewable energy into the grid, which is great.”

VECO is led by Darebin City Council. Darebin mayor Lina Messina says the project is proof of what can be achieved with collaboration.

“This is a collective effort formed by staff and councillors from across the state, for the benefit of our communities,” Cr Messina said.

“By powering councils with affordable renewable energy, we’re making ratepayers’ dollars go further. Every dollar we save on energy bills is a dollar we can put towards improving roads, footpaths, libraries or community programs.”

Red Energy will provide 240 GWh of electricity per year to the 46 councils in the VECO purchasing group over a period of 9.5 years, beginning 1 July 2021.

Owned by Snowy Hydro, Red Energy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated energy retailer based in Melbourne.

“Given Red Energy is born and bred in Victoria, we are really excited to be a part of a project that is supporting Victorian councils, their ratepayers and two new Victorian wind farms”, said Red Energy CEO Iain Graham.

“Our owner Snowy Hydro has been a leader in renewable generation for decades and Red Energy is delighted to partner with Victorian councils to provide a long-term energy contract that will enable councils to purchase renewable energy at a competitive price”, Mr Graham said.

The renewable energy will be provided by two wind farms in Victoria – Dundonnell wind farm near Mortlake, which started exporting power to the grid in March 2020, and Murra Warra II wind farm near Horsham, which commenced construction September 2020 and will be fully operational by June 2022.

Both wind farms have and will continue to deliver economic benefits to the regions during construction and ongoing operation, and form an important part of state, regional and local economic development.