Can the council cut its $6 million energy cost and go solar?

BUILDING a solar farm to cut the Fraser Coast Regional Council's mammoth annual $6 million electricity bill will be investigated if Chris Loft is elected Mayor.

In the past financial year the council spent $6,690,000 on electricity and gas across the Fraser Coast.

The cost makes up 10.6% of the council's $62 million materials and services spend.

If elected, Cr Loft promises to do a feasibility study into the use of a solar farm to combat rising energy costs.

"Benefits of a solar power station would include; the creation of jobs, both short-term during the construction phase and long term operations and maintenance," he said.

Cr Loft said early indications estimated the council could save about 15% of its energy costs, or about $1 million annually.

He said if the Federal and State Governments could help fund renewable energy projects the Fraser Coast could avoid footing the majority of construction costs.

"Funds would be forthcoming from both these sources instead of being all passed on to the region's ratepayers," he said.

In 2012 Nikenbah's $2.7 million, 1600-panel solar farm was opened.

That farm offsets some costs of running Wide Bay Water's assets but Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said the farm was "barely covering costs".

He said energy costs made up a large part of the $15 million the council had saved in the past few years.

"We're continuing to look at ways we can do that (save money) - the type of lighting we use in buildings and using less air conditioning," he said

The Local Government Association of Queensland has pledged to support any council looking at alternative power options.

Using the hot water flowing from existing bores, the Winton Shire Council is investigating how it could benefit from geothermal energy.

The Sunshine Coast Council also has plans to build a 15 megawatt solar farm to deliver millions of dollars in savings.

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