A new plan for a clean energy future for the region has been given the green light.
Bega Valley Shire Council's Clean Energy Implementation Plan was passed unanimously during Wednesday's council meeting, with many councillors showing interest in reducing the cost of local government's current energy use.
The plan reveals the region's water and sewerage systems account for 67 per cent of total council energy use, and $2.68 million is spent each year on electricity and fuel by council alone.
It provides a framework for future energy efficiency measures, future transitions to renewable energy, possible pathways to complete renewable energy use, and aims to reduce the region's vulnerability to future energy price uncertainties.
Mayor Kristy McBain said council current budget will allow for the plan, which covers short, medium and long term actions, to get under way, with the next financial year's budget of $70,000 now a permanent budget fixture.
Part of the plan includes the reinvesting of savings into further clean energy projects such as energy efficient street lighting, and investigating options for the complete use of renewable energy by 2030.
The report states a 100 per cent renewable energy use target could be reached "in the next couple of years" if the region was to become a generator of electricity.
The target could be met by solar farming on a local level, as well as purchasing renewable energy from elsewhere, the report says.
Greens councillor Cathy Griff unsuccessfully pushed for the 2030 renewable energy target to be more prominent in the report.
She said the region needed "more robust renewable energy targets", which she said was "very important for people in the community".
"The cost of renewables is now cheaper, so there is an inevitability about it," she said.
Councillor Jo Dodds supported Cr Griff's push, saying the issue of climate change is "more than budgets and agreements and disagreements".
"Even though one could think it [the target] is symbolic, it is within this plan," she said.
The report states emissions related to energy use will fall due to the "greening" of the network, and estimates the reduction in green house gas emissions from council is expected to reduce by 50 to 100 per cent relative to 2017 levels by the year 3030.
"As the cost of renewables is now lower than that of fossil fuels, replacement generation being fed into the national electricity grid is increasingly being provided by renewables. This trend will accelerate as ageing coal fired power stations reach the end of their useful lives," the report states.
Councillor Tony Allen said he would fully back the region "to get off the grid" if there was a "continuation certainty of supply".
"We all have ambitions to save power and save money," he said.
Councillor Liz Seckold said the report sits nicely alongside council's involvement with the Climate Council's Cities Power Partnership.
"This clean energy plan is a natural evolution," she said.
She said times had changed since the 2016 election when just two candidates said climate change was the biggest priority for the region.
Councillor Robyn Bain said the energy efficiency plan for water and sewerage should begin as soon as possible, and questioned whether infrastructure including pumps could be made more energy efficient over the next 12 months.
"It's not quite as sexy as putting PV cells on our rooves," she said.
"I question why we are leaving this so long."
Council's director of assets and operations, Anthony McMahon said it could be possible, but would depend on the cost as well as adequate staffing levels to complete the work.
Councillor Mitchell Nadin described the report as "practical", adding the "best thing about this report is that it's not lofty".
Acting director of community, environment and planning Derek Van Bracht said due to the fact the renewable energy space is "evolving so rapidly", consultants advised council to focus on energy efficiency.
He said energy efficiency work on capital works would pay for themselves in as little as five to six years.
Members of a growing direct action movement held what they described as a "work-in" before the meeting, interacting with councillors as they entered the civic centre.
"Our first step is for council to declare a climate emergency," climate activist Mica Lynnah said.
She was joined by Julie Morandini and Vivian Harris, with all three attending the meeting with the hopes the clean energy plan would be adopted.
"I want to see our community more proactive at saving the environment," Ms Morandini said.
"Individuals can't do it on their own."