Bulloo Shire invest over $1.8m to be Greenest Shire
IN Thargonmindah, in the far southwest of Queensland, an innovative outback shire is going green.
The Bulloo Shire Council has embarked on an ambitious project to install solar panels at 24 sites across the shire and cost effectively cool the Artesian Bore water that forms the town water supply.
Located over 200km from the closest electrical substation, the power supply is often unstable.
In fact energy loss on powerlines coming into Thargomindah can exceed 40 pre cent due to distance and reflected heat.
The shire is at the limit of their power supply capacity with less than 0.5 mega volt amps available.
"Our existing and new businesses can't grow because we only have a very small capacity left in our electricity lines," Mayor John Ferguson said.
"We had to find another sustainable alternative, so we looked to solar - we're taking advantage of our clear blue skies and low average rainfall."
With the support of the Queensland state government, council plans to reduce the load on the grid and save the council $102,258 per year in electricity costs while also providing new opportunities for businesses to grow with the extra capacity made available.
Local government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk government had contributed to the project through the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program, which helps councils deliver priority infrastructure.
"This solar panel project does that and while they may be short of water in Thargomindah, they're certainly not short on sunshine," he said.
"Not only is this project going to support or create about a dozen jobs, it will also help the businesses in the shire by improving power supply."
Bulloo Shire CEO, Lew Rojahn said, "we are on course to reduce our carbon emissions by over 520 tonnes a year and deliver significant financial savings for our shirt."
"We plan to invest the money we save in new and improved facilities for the whole community."
This isn't the first time the Bulloo Shire has flexed its sustainable and environmental muscle, in fact the Bulloo Shire has been going green since 1898.
The shire became the first in Australia and third in the world to create and use hydro-electricity.
For over 60 years the town streetlights were powered using the water pressure from the Artesian Basin.
Today the water from the Artesian Basin forms the core town water supply and reaches the surface at over 70 degrees Celsius.
This project has allowed council to efficiently cool the water and improve the liveability of the community.
"In summer, water entering our houses can reach 60 degrees Celsius, this doesn't make for a very pleasant shower when you come in from the paddock," mayor Ferguson said.
Council initiated this new project after suffering significant brown outs and black outs in 2018 and worked with Peak Services to develop their plan to become the Greenest Shire in Western Queensland.
"We will invest over $1.8 million in this initiative and we're right on track to achieve our Green title. We send a challenge to our western council colleagues to vie for the honour," the mayor said.