The council will aim to source 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2027 under a newly adopted strategy.
Robust debate centred around the Long Term Energy Strategy at the October 18 council meeting.
The policy was adopted in an 8:1 vote with Cr Mike Cusato voting against.
Stuart Watson, representing Port Macquarie-Hastings Sustainability Group and Climate Change Australia – Hastings Branch, said the strategy would lead to lower costs for the council and create jobs.
“We look forward to working with the council in the future to ensure we get a cost-effective path towards a low carbon future that is going to benefit the community,” he said.
Cr Lisa Intemann supported the policy’s adoption.
“We are looking to reduce our costs in providing electricity for our services so we can save money for our community and our organisation,” she said.
Any future expenditure will have to come back to the council.
Cr Justin Levido voted in favour of the policy adoption but raised concerns about the use of council’s very limited resources.
He said it was important the council remained realistic and grounded on this issue.
Cr Peter Alley said the strategy would reduce the council’s costs and that would release resources for core council business.
The strategy provides a framework to guide and facilitate strategic decision-making to manage the council’s energy resources.
Cr Cusato put forward an earlier motion to defer the matter and request a briefing to councillors with a detailed strategy analysis.
The motion was lost in a 3:6 vote with Crs Cusato, Griffiths and Levido voting in favour of deferral.
Cr Cusato said he did not believe there had been enough consultation with the general community.
He spoke about the unknowns and urged the councillors to have a rethink on the issue.
Cr Cusato said if the council went down the path of having a strategy, it was ridiculous to have a 100 per cent renewable target.
Mayor Peta Pinson said it was the council’s responsibility to look to be as sustainable as possible for the benefit of the community, and noted the policy contained aims and a target.
The strategy includes the council aiming to implement one or more mid-scale solar projects.