ARENA expands SMF partnership, growing councils offering innovative sustainable finance

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Sustainable Melbourne Fund (SMF) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) are today announcing the expansion of their partnership, to double the number of local governments offering innovative low-cost loans for businesses to make upgrades that cut emissions and energy costs.

Through the agreement, the Australian Government will provide $390,000 for an additional 15 local governments to offer Environmental Upgrade Finance (EUF) in their municipalities, using SMF’s services, driving uptake of Environmental Upgrade Finance statewide.

Scott Bocskay, CEO of Sustainable Melbourne Fund, said, “The expansion of this program will enable nearly 50% of all local governments within Victoria to offer Environmental Upgrade Finance cheaply and efficiently to their communities”

Currently, 14 councils have, or are opening up, EUF offerings with $8.25M in successful renewable energy loans already secured in these municipalities. The projects funded by EUF are saving Victorian small to medium enterprises $1.5 million per annum, and cutting 5,953 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win for Victorian local councils and small businesses.

Ivor Frischknecht, CEO of ARENA, said, “The success of the program shows that there is growing community awareness of the benefits that renewable energy brings to local businesses whether it be from cost savings or contributing to reducing Australia’s emissions.”

Read media release.

Benefits to small businesses

Through EUF, family business Booth Transport has reinvested utility savings back into the business. Business owner Michael Booth said, “The rising prices make it very hard to mitigate going back to your customers to get price increases.”

“We wanted to make an environmental statement, we wanted to make our customers and staff feel good about working here and we wanted to save money on rising utility prices,” he said.

Similarly, Paringa Estate cut its energy costs by 50% after installing solar panels and replacing inefficient air conditioning units through EUF. Business owner Lindsay McCall said, “There are benefits just by customers walking down our driveway and being able to see the solar panels.”

Both businesses are featured in video case-studies available today via YouTube. Watch the Booth Transport case study and the Paringa Estate case study.

Businesses can find more information on Environmental Upgrade Finance at betterbuildingfinance.com.au.

Councils can find out more about SMF’s administrative services at sustainablemelbournefund.com.au/services/local-government-services/.

Read media release.