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Byron Shire
April 20, 2021

Lismore set to ‘farm’ its own electricity

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Sustainable Business Consulting director Barbara Albert, Lismore City Council Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett, Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and SBC technical expert Patrick Denvir.
Sustainable Business Consulting director Barbara Albert, Lismore City Council environmental strategies officer Sharyn Hunnisett, Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and SBC technical expert Patrick Denvir.

Darren Coyne

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.

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  1. Way to go Lismore! In generations this ground breaking ambition will be remembered and thanked for doing the right thing for our children’s children.

  2. All is not lost !
    It has been a slow uptake but finally the main- stream is ready to see the inspiring example of Nimbin and it’s unswerving devotion to alternate and appropriate technology. The fact is, the old system is killing our planet and destroying the chance for our grand -children to thrive. Bentley has shown us that it is possible to exercise a smidgen of democracy and force the Government to do the right thing, occasionally. Well done !

  3. I just got back from a sustainable Cities expo in London and Lismore appears to be Australia’s ground breakers. Congratulations for having the courage to lead rather than wait and hope.

  4. If whole cities, even whole STATES in the U.S. can do it, so can we, not to mention whole countries,Germany for example currently sitting on 94% non fossil fuelled energy running their respective communities.

  5. This is a fantastic project and should they delive it what a fantastic outcome. I had the experience of hearing Barbara Albert present in a training course and she was brillant. Changed my life.

  6. Seems like the people of Lismore have a Council that is doing them proud. Well done to all concerned. Wish Tweed Shire Council had the same vision 🙁

  7. One way of saving electricity is to have all street lights turn off at midnight except for orange / amber ones at intersections and street corners like they used to back in the 70s in capital cities .

    Can never understand why this simple cost saver was phased out . Other than by using electricity it kept the power station running at optimum energy output / efficiency ? .

    Apparently there are some community owned wind turbines being established in Aust . Way to go .


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