AFTER spending $24 million in the past decade on electricity, Bathurst Regional councillor Ian North says it is time to think green and build a solar farm.
Skyrocketing electricity prices and a growing city, has left him fearing that council’s bill may reach $40m in the coming decade.
Cr North said not only would a solar farm save council money in the long term, but the time had come for council to think “greener”.
“We’re talking about being smart, but what we’re not being smart with is paying someone else to do what we can do,” he said.
And the perfect place for a solar farm, he says, is Mount Panorama.
Not only was it already council-owned land, but Cr North said during race events the eyes of the world would see how environmentally-friendly Bathurst council had become.
Council already has solar panels on a number of its facilities, including the art gallery and the visitor information centre.
“We are we putting a lot of solar panels on our buildings, why are people doing it? Because it saves money,” he said.
We’re talking about being smart, but what we’re not being smart with is paying someone else to do what we can do.Bathurst Regional councillor Ian North
“Imagine if we have a facility where could do that.”
Bathurst Community Climate Action Network president Tracy Sorensen praised Cr North’s proposal and said group members would support a council-owned solar farm.
“It’s not that much of a radical idea, it’s a smart idea,” she said. “It does make sense if council itself is a land owner … it would be good in the long term.”
Ms Sorensen said in the long term the price of coal fuel would continue to rise and it was time to consider other sources of power.
She said the addition of a solar farm on the iconic circuit would also help promote Bathurst as a destination for electric car racing.
“As an environmentalist I think it’s a brilliant idea,” she said of council developing a solar farm alongside the well known racing track.
Cr North admitted that it would take some time for council to “pay off” the cost of installing a solar farm, however, in the long term the community would reap the benefits.
He said the money currently spent on electricity would be better spent on roads, facilities and a multitude of other projects for the community.
“The money saved on electricity could be put into anything such as another bridge over the river,” he said.
“We’ve got to start thinking outside the square – we’re a land developer, why don’t we start thinking about somewhere we could have a solar farm?”