It would appear the solar light globe – denoting big ideas are afoot – is well and truly glowing over the heads of the people of Lismore right now.
With the determined Bentley blockaders forcing a major rethink on the gas-mining industry in the northern rivers region, a vision for Lismore to become 100 per cent self-sufficient with regards to its electricity use by 2023 is also gaining plenty of traction.
Conceived during last year’s Imagine Lismore consultations, the plan, put simply, is to get off the grid within ten years by embracing sustainable technology.
At a gathering at the Lismore Council Chambers yesterday evening, council staff, councillors, and other interested parties such as the Office of Environment and Heritage, Sustainable Northern Rivers, and community members further refined the concept.
They considered various options presented by consulting firm Sustainable Business Consulting – solar farms, wind generation, wave and tidal generation, biogas … and aggressive energy-efficiency measures aimed at reducing current usage of electricity prior to the introduction of renewable energy.
And then they stuck blue dots on the ones they liked.
SBC director Barbara Albert told Echonetdaily that a final report would be presented to the council at the end of August.
Another workshop would be held in the weeks leading up to that to refine the details of the plan.
She also said that other council areas were closely following what was happening in the Lismore area.
‘Everybody has been talking about Bentley,’ she said. ‘This area is leading the way, especially with regards to the uptake of solar.’
Environmental strategies officer Sharyn Hunnisett said residents had made it clear that they believed Lismore could lead by example.
‘Our general manager (Gary Murphy) came away from that consultation process and gave staff a challenge of his own – to become 100 per cent self-sufficient in electricity via renewable sources by 2023.
‘That is a huge challenge but we are going to give it our best shot.’
Ms Hunnisett said despite the growth of the council in the past 10 years it had managed to turn around its soaring greenhouse emissions so that they were now consistently on the decrease.
‘We have just this week opened our new Materials Recovery Facility to process recyclables from right around the region and we are now ready to begin our 10-year Renewable Energy Master Plan.
‘I believe the way we think about energy and our waste is constantly evolving and I believe Lismore can be at the forefront of innovation and making smart choices for a cleaner, greener world.’
More than 20 council staff took part in yesterday’s sustainability workshop.