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Queensland utility unveils seven-year energy strategy

With population and energy price increases a surety, one water utility has set its sights on keeping energy spending down in future with a new seven-year energy management plan.

Unitywater’s 2020-2027 Energy Management Plan aims to save the equivalent of $2.5 million per annum in energy costs, consumption and emissions by 2027, which will in turn help keep customer bills as low as possible.

The strategy will focus on initiatives to purchase and use less energy, and pay less for grid energy, in order to counter the increasing demand on sewer and water networks from population growth.

Unitywater CEO George Theo said the plan would allow the utility to pass on savings to customers.

“Our energy management plan is good news for the environment and for our customers,” he said.

“A growing population comes with increased infrastructure, energy costs and consumption to continue to provide essential services to the community and we are planning to meet the future needs of the region in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.”

With sewage treatment plants (STPs) accounting for nearly half of all energy spend, Theo said the investment will use technologies at the utility’s STPs to drive down energy consumption.

“By using innovative technologies such as biosolid energy generation at our sewage treatment plants, alongside smart energy efficiency initiatives, we’ll be able to not only reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, but save $2.5 million in costs and keep customer bills as low as possible,” he said.

“Energy spend is critical to keeping costs down for our customers and ensures better and more environmentally sustainable outcomes for the community in which we operate and live.”

The plan outlines keys aims, including:

  • Producing energy by using the success of a Cogeneration Plant at Kawana STP (energy reduced by 32%) and a Solar Plant at Kenilworth STP (energy neutral).
  • The utility will use data visualisation tools to help manage energy consumption and drive behavioural change. 
  • Improving business-as-usual projects, including aeration and infiltration, by using new technology that will identify sources of inflow and leaks in the sewer network.
  • Targeting more favourable energy pricing and increasing green energy to optimise procurement. 

Unitywater will begin rolling out the plan this month.