John Fry says Bathurst Regional Council should invest in solar

COUNCILLOR John Fry wants to see Bathurst Regional Council further invest in renewable energy, whether that be through a solar farm of its own or a future energy deal.

His comments follow a suggestion from his fellow councillor, Ian North, who said council should develop its own solar farm, potentially on Mount Panorama

At last week’s council meeting, Cr Fry said he supported Cr North’s suggestion, but his preference would be for a deal to be struck with Photon if the proposed solar farm at Brewongle goes ahead. 

“[Cr North] talked about putting solar panels up at Mount Panorama, which was great, but my priority would be a power agreement from Photon,” he said. 

Cr Fry said a deal with Photon would need to be negotiated through existing Centroc agreements. 

There are several reasons why council should invest in renewable energy of its own, he said, one of which is safety and security. 

“Council should have its own power for critical infrastructure, such as pumping stations, the waste treatment plant and the water filtration plant,” Cr Fry said. 

Another key thing, he said, was the amount of money council would save long-term.

Council has spent $24 million in the past decade on electricity and this figure is expected to keep growing with skyrocketing electricity prices and a growing city. 

“Whether we have a power agreement or have our own panels, it will save council money,” Cr Fry said. 

Bathurst is already going down the path of becoming a smart city, which is all about finding innovative ways to improve liveability, productivity and sustainability.

Council is investing in projects such as a CBD Wi-Fi network, CCTV, Smart Street lighting and the Upstairs start-up hub to become a Smart City, with the hope of creating more jobs, attracting more investment and placing Bathurst on the radar as a centre for innovation.

Cr Fry said Bathurst is “probably ahead of most councils” in becoming a Smart City, so it is important that renewable energy continues to be a priority. 

“The whole idea of a Smart City is to have renewable energy and have infrastructure that uses its own power and has its own management plan,” he said. 

He also said it wasn’t as simple as putting solar panels on top of all council facilities, because some couldn’t support the infrastructure. 

“It’s a lot easier to buy cheap power from Photon than to try to put panels on all council facilities, which would be impossible.”