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Powering up to drive down emissions

By April 14, 2021No Comments

Merri-bek City Council continues to reduce its emissions to become zero-carbon by 2040. We now have the largest council electric vehicle (EV) fleet in Victoria and two of our teams, Open Space and Animal Management, are also turning to battery-power technology to help reach our goals.

Keeping it green

The Open Space team maintains our beautiful parks, trees, conservation reserves and sports fields. Their vehicles require stamina to undertake long days of work and carry loads throughout Moreland. The team based out of Gillon Oval off Hope Street, Brunswick, have recently purchased an electric Cushman Hauler Pro utility vehicle, with 72-volt AC powertrain, rugged tires, extra ground clearance and a whopping 408kg load capacity. This new vehicle enables them to carry gear around the precinct, instead of walking or waiting for a weekly diesel truck pick-up.

Other members of the Open Space team have been converting pole-pruners, hedge-trimmers, blowers and even whipper-snippers to clean, green, battery-powered technology. An electric mower has also been bought for use as a grooming machine on playing fields.

Next in line are investigations for an electric Hino truck to tow mowers and wood chippers where required throughout Moreland.

“We’re undertaking investigations into the endurance of this new technology because we hope that these vehicles could be brought in to replace our aging fleet,” says Paul Brennan, Coordinator Open Space Area Maintenance.

Off-road along the Merri

Over in the Animal Management team, work is similarly underway to make Merri-bek City Council zero-carbon.

Part of their role is to help our community keep our wildlife safe and our waterways clean by ensuring dogs are cleaned up after and on lead where required. Proactive patrols are a regular part of the work with officers travelling throughout Moreland’s parks and waterways. Traversing the length and terrain of the reserves has been difficult – meaning that some areas are hard to reach regularly, if at all.

That all changed in August last year when the team bought two new electric mountain bikes. Now instead of using fossil-fuelled vans, where they’d have to park at the edge of the reserve and patrol by foot, they can bike off-road to parts of the Merri Creek Trail they’d never been able to properly patrol.

According to Alex Yudin, Animal Management and Local Laws Officer, an officer can now cover over 25 kms in a typical shift – more than the length of the Merri Creek Trail. One bike has travelled 1888kms since purchase, and the other 1225km!

“People are getting used to seeing us around, too,” he says, “which means a greater awareness in the community for the importance of protecting our wildlife, and fewer fines delivered.”

This win-win-win – better service, and fewer fines and carbon emissions – must also be backed up by another win: healthier lifestyles.

“I love using the bikes,” says Alex. “We normally only using the vans to patrol now when it’s really bad weather. Even when it’s drizzling, we’re out in wet-weather gear on those tough bikes.”

All-renewable electricity

All Merri-bek City Council electric-powered technology – from the cars and bikes to the mowers and pruners – are charged with 100% renewable energy. On 1 January 2019, Merri-bek began purchasing all electricity for Council operations from the Crowlands Wind Farm in north west Victoria.

In addition, Merri-bek City Council has the largest council EV fleet in Victoria, with 25 pure electric vehicles in its light vehicle fleet and 14 EV charging stations including five fast chargers. The future is bright!