Councils convene on energy transformation

Local government leaders from across the country have convened in Port Augusta to discuss and share information on the nation’s transition to renewable energy.

Meeting in the regional centre, 14 councils from across the nation met to discuss the future of sustainable energy for the local government sector as part of the Climate Council's Cities Power Partnership program.

Port Augusta, traditionally a centre of coal and fossil fuel generation, has marked three years since its last coal power station shut down. Now the regional city is considered the nation’s standard bearer in clean energy transition.

Former South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, met with local government leaders to drive home how supportive state government policy making drove the systemic local government shift in energy production.

“Our strong state policy is what has driven South Australia’s renewable energy boom,” he said.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie reinforced that local and regional clean energy projects form a crucial part of Australia’s climate solution – but they need supportive state and federal policy to surge forward.

“Working together, local councils can be far more than the sum of their parts when it comes to tackling climate change and providing sustainable solutions for their communities,” she said.

“Following Port Augusta’s lead and coupled with supportive state policy, towns and cities around Australia can transform Australia’s energy landscape.”

Former Port Augusta Mayor, Sam Johnson, a key player in the region’s energy revolution, said that strong local leadership, with support from state government, attracted new jobs and businesses to the area following the state’s last coal-fired power stations closure.

“Just three years on, there are at least eight renewable energy projects in various stages of development in the Port Augusta and Whyalla region, supporting more than 850 jobs and approximately $1.5 billion in investment. This has seen our city thrive on cleaner power, less pollution and lower energy prices.”

“The rebirth of our former coal town shows exactly what investment in renewables can do for transitioning regional towns. It’s fantastic to see the Cities Power Partnership bring councils from around Australia to inspire a renewables boom in their own cities and towns and put more clean energy projects on the ground.”

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