Past inspires energy plans

ADDRESSING the rising costs of electricity has to be a priority for Bathurst Regional Council moving into the future, two councillors have said.

The issue was brought up at the last meeting of council on August 2, where both Cr Greg Westman and Cr Bobby Bourke spoke on the topic. 

Cr Westman, who has confirmed he won’t be running for re-election next month, said council was spending a lot of money each year on electricity that ratepayers had to help cover the costs of.

He suggested that council look into the possibility of becoming an electricity provider, as was the case back in the days when Bathurst was part of Southern Mitchell County Council. 

Southern Mitchell County Council traded as Southern Mitchell Electricity with the objective to provide a safe, reliable and efficient supply of electricity to customers.

Cr Westman said ratepayers would benefit if council did something similar now.

“Can we possibly buy the electricity in bulk from a generator or can we have our own generator for electricity and then sell that off?” he posed. 

“Over the last few years we have been unfortunately dealing with significant increases in electricity costs and that is seen in the rates and residents are seeing that in their electricity bills.

“We need to look at all factors of our electricity and whether we invest in greener energy sources and other options and that becomes part of a greater electricity plan for Bathurst.”

Cr Bourke said reducing electricity costs was a priority for him and something he would pursue if re-elected to council in September. 

He said Cr Westman’s idea “has merit” and should be investigated further.

“Electricity is one of the main things on everyone’s agenda and as a council we have to prioritise,” Cr Bourke said. 

“If we don’t start doing deals with someone or take it over ourselves we’re going to be behind.

“I don’t want to be a council going on a higher rate basis because of electricity prices.”