South East Water signs innovative energy deal with Victorian water sector 




South East Water will join 12 other leading Victorian water corporations in a new energy partnership that will help to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and maintain affordable water bills for customers.

From October this year, the water corporations will purchase solar power together from Kiamal Solar Farm in north-west Victoria under a new umbrella organisation called Zero Emissions Water (ZEW).

Purchasing energy as one large organisation compared to separately, means the water corporations will procure energy at a cheaper rate which will translate to maintaining affordable prices for customers.

South East Water’s Managing Director, Terri Benson said that the Victorian water industry is committed to advancing projects that benefit the environment and create more return on investment for customers.

“Our customers are looking to us to ensure the long-term affordability of water and protect our environment to create healthy, liveable communities,” Ms Benson said.

“We need to take decisive action to keep prices low and protect our environment for future generations – and that’s what this initiative is about.”

“Collaboration within our industry is essential as we work to become carbon-neutral industry, and South East Water is proud to be a founding member of ZEW,” she added.

The deal will allow South East Water to purchase 13 GWh of electricity (equal to 12,500 tonnes of greenhouse emissions) which is approximately 45 per cent of its annual electricity needs.

Victorian water corporations are leading the way for other water corporations and industries. This deal is the first of its kind in Australia and is a major step forward towards the sector achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

As a forward-thinking organisation, South East Water is committed investigating new, energy-efficient ways to power its operations. In 2018, the organisation committed to the industry-wide Emissions Reductions Pledge, with a goal to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2025 and become net-zero by 2030.

A number of projects are currently underway to support this goal, including upgrading the energy-intensive Pakenham and Somers water recycling plants with solar panels to assist in powering the plants and reduce their reliance on on-grid electricity.

South East Water is also installing a co-generation system at its Boneo Water Recycling Plant to turn emissions into energy. The upgrade will include the capture of biogas generated during the treatment process to power the plant’s operations, and implementation of the nitrite-shunt nutrient removal process, an emerging technology which significantly reduces the electricity required to treat the wastewater.

South East Water will also investigate battery storage, along with other energy efficient initiatives.

The 13 water corporations that are part of Zero Emissions Water include:

  • South East Water
  • Barwon Water
  • Central Highlands Water
  • City West Water
  • Coliban Water
  • East Gippsland Water
  • Southern Rural Water
  • Lower Murray Water
  • South Gippsland Water
  • Wannon Water
  • Westernport Water
  • Western Water
  • Yarra Valley Water

You can learn more about Zero Emissions Water at