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Victorian water utilities form solar power partnership

In a first for the Australian water sector, more than a dozen Victorian water corporations have joined forces to buy cheaper solar power.

The 13 utilities will purchase energy from Kiamal Solar Farm in northwest Victoria through a new organisation, Zero Emissions Water (ZEW), at a cheaper rate than would be possible individually.

The water corporations will be able to purchase 20% to 50% of their total energy needs, which Water Minister Lisa Neville said would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80,000 tonnes every year.

“We’ve seen the effects of climate change on our water storage levels, which is why it’s more important than ever to create solutions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Neville said.

“It’s great to see our state’s water corporations working together on this innovative new model, which will not only help protect our environment into the future but also keep water bills affordable for Victorians.”

The Victorian Government is aiming for a 42% reduction in the water sector’s emissions by 2025 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s four metropolitan water corporations are working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

ZEW Chair Paul O’Donohue said the initiative would help the water businesses achieve these targets.

“The security of Victoria’s water supply relies on our response to climate change, and this is a solution that will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” O’Donohue said.

“The Victorian water industry is working together to meet renewable energy targets whilst seeking to reduce costs for customers at a time when the cost of living can feel unpredictable for some.”

Stage one of Kiamal Solar Farm is expected to be completed by mid-2019, with stage two to start construction before the end of the year.