QUEANBEYAN City Council estimates savings of over $100,000 from a suite of energy-efficient measures to be introduced over the next five years.
Faced with rising energy and waste disposal costs spurred on by the commencement of the federal government's carbon tax earlier this week, general manager Gary Chapman said Council had recently completed a wholesale audit of its energy usage.
The audit identified potential energy savings from using more efficient fluorescent lighting at council buildings, placing hot water urns on timers, introducing more efficient heating and skylights at the council depot and the aquatic centre, and replacing a 30-year-old air conditioning system at the Council administration building.
"We're also in a joint venture with Essential Energy to replace all outdated streetlights with energy efficient models, and we anticipate we'll be saving somewhere between $45,000 and $50,000 a year just in energy costs," Mr Chapman said.
Increased costs from the carbon tax on council would fall in two main areas, Mr Chapman said- waste disposal and energy usage.
"One of the biggest costs is in waste disposal. We take all our rubbish across to Mugga Lane [tip], and the ACT Government has increased their dumping costs quite significantly, which we've had to pass on to residents.
"The only [other] one that will flow on will of course be increased electricity charges," he said.
Asked to estimate how much council could save through its energy efficiency programs, Mr Chapman said it was difficult predict with much accuracy.
"The difficulty with a lot of this stuff is that as soon as you reduce your consumption, the prices go up again. It's a bit like water- we all went through a drought and reduced our consumption, but then ACTEW put up the price of water and you're back where you started from," he said.
Council also placed a draft Community Climate Action Plan on public exhibition last week, following a period of public consultation and debate on sustainability practices around town.
Queanbeyan-Monaro Greens spokeswoman Katrina Willis welcomed the use of more sustainable and energy efficient council practices, and said the carbon tax was an opportunity to reform energy use more broadly.
"From our point of view, pricing carbon is the catalyst to transform the economy, including our local economy, to put it on an ecologically sustainable footing," Ms Willis said.
"Hopefully the price on carbon will get people thinking a bit more seriously about the opportunities. A lot of people just see it as an imposition, but it's designed to change behaviour and get people thinking more creatively about living with reduced carbon emissions.
"I think it's going to work, and the economists say it's the cheapest way to create the change we need to have," she said.