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Council cuts energy use five-fold

By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY Council has smashed its target of cutting its energy use this year by almost five times – recording its lowest energy consumption for 11 years.

The policy and resources committee heard today that the council recorded a 9.6 per cent decrease for 2018/19 on the previous year's energy consumption – eclipsing the 2 per cent target set out in its energy policy.

This was put down to the sale or closure of some council buildings, warmer weather, energy-saving programmes including installing urinal controls and draught-proofing, and increased awareness among staff on energy and climate issues.

While the figures don’t include street lighting, the LED replacement programme is delivering annual savings of almost £400,000 in electricity costs and has lowered energy consumption by 23% in the last 12 months.

Councillor Aaron McLean.
Councillor Aaron McLean.

In total the council’s energy bill at its non-domestic properties totalled £2,600,554 – a decrease of £27,814 (0.9 per cent) compared to 2017/18. The fall in energy costs was much smaller than the fall in energy consumption as the unit costs of oil, gas and electricity all increased significantly in 2018/19.

Nearly 50 per cent of heating reduction was attributable to secondary schools, which all recorded notable decreases. During the last year, almost 1,000 pupils and staff received briefings and training on energy awareness. The local authority also ran regular articles in the staff Connect magazine and participated in Earth Hour.

Chairman of the policy and resources committee, Councillor Aaron McLean, applauded the progress. He said: "For an authority aspiring to become carbon neutral by 2030, it’s reassuring to see that we’re making great progress in lowering our carbon emissions and reducing our energy consumption – meeting this year’s energy reduction target five-fold. I commend the efforts of our energy team, and our pupils and staff for taking steps to become more energy efficient.

"Not only is this better for the environment, it’s reducing our operational costs and is expected to save us £100,000 on our Climate Change Levy."

Future targets will focus on a reduction in carbon emissions in line with national reporting, the council’s declaration of a climate emergency earlier this year, and its bid to become carbon neutral.

In his report to committee members, energy officer Ronnie Macdonald said: "There is still potential for reductions in energy consumption through a programme of energy projects, property rationalisation, use of Building Energy Management Systems and staff awareness/behaviour changes."

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