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Partnership lowers solar energy price

Yarra Valley Water has joined forces with other Victorian water corporations to work towards achieving net-zero emissions by purchasing up to 7000 MWh of renewable energy from the Zero Emissions Water (ZEW) program.

ZEW is a partnership between 13 water corporations to purchase energy from Victoria’s largest solar farm – the Kiamal Solar Farm located at Ouyen.

Purchasing energy through the partnership enables water corporations to purchase energy at a cheaper rate than if they buy individually, an initiative that will create savings and help maintain steady customer bills.

Acting Minister for Water Richard Wynne said that the deal shows how the Victorian water industry is leading the way in collaborative efforts to reduce emissions.

“This agreement is another great example of the actions the Victorian Water industry is taking to manage and reduce their carbon emissions – showing how Victoria is once again leading the way as we transition to a renewable energy future,” Wynne said.

By purchasing clean energy from the ZEW project, Yarra Valley Water is getting one step closer to obtaining 100% of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2025, with the utility’s participation in the project providing up to 25% of annual energy requirements.

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director Pat McCafferty said that the deal is a way to balance environmental outcomes while keeping pressure off customer bills.

“This deal is a smart and innovative way of doing business that has helped us to deliver on our purpose to protect the environment while maintaining affordable bills for customers,” McCafferty said.

Aside from participating in the ZEW project, Yarra Valley Water is also undertaking other emissions reduction initiatives, including operating a waste-to-energy facility, and installing solar panels to power its head office and several treatment plants.

Yarra Valley Water also has a large-scale floating solar and second waste-to-energy facility in the delivery pipeline.

Zero Emissions Water Chair Paul O’Donohue said the limited liability company will purchase up to 78 gigawatt hours of renewable energy per annum and distribute it to participating water corporations.

“The 13 water corporations will each take a percentage share of the total renewable energy ZEW purchases based on their local needs. The purchase agreement is set for 11 years and will be supplying each corporation up to 50% of their renewable energy requirement,” he said.

Kiamal Solar Farm Chairman Michael Vawser said he looks forward to seeing the benefits of the partnership unfold into the future.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Zero Emissions Water to secure a large off-take from the Kiamal Solar Farm and enable the 13 Victorian Water Boards involved to source a significant renewable energy supply,” he said.

“The Kiamal Solar Farm is a unique project, not only because it is the biggest Solar Farm in the State of Victoria, but also because it is backed by four Power Purchase Agreements including that with ZEW, plus one Large-scale Generation Certificates contract.”

The ZEW partnership is the first of its kind in Australia and is a major step towards the sector becoming a leader in climate change mitigation in Victoria.