City of Newcastle has delayed replacing four diesel green-waste trucks while it investigates buying electric vehicles instead.
It comes as the council's crosstown counterpart pursues funding to trial hydrogen-powered garbage trucks.
Newcastle councillors unanimously voted this week not to take up a tender for the supply of four diesel trucks until a business case assessing the merits of electric trucks is completed.
The diesel trucks, worth about $475,000 each new, are scheduled for replacement every four years. Staff had recommended not purchasing new ones because they might "not align with the findings" of the business case, which is being crafted to help the council achieve its Climate Action Plan targets.
"One of the main actions in our climate action plan is the reduction of liquid fuel," lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
"The way we do that is looking at new technologies."
A $220,000 overhaul will instead allow the existing trucks to be used for another three years.
The council wants to have a net-zero fleet by 2030 and Cr Nelmes said electric trucks had been trialed elsewhere with some councils having already "made the transition".
She said there was a "double-benefit" opportunity to recharge the trucks using the solar farm at Summerhill.
"But it is prudent that we go through the financial process first," she said.
Cr John Mackenzie (GRN) said delaying the purchase of new diesel trucks would ensure the council is not waiting "six or seven" years to transition the fleet.
Cr Brad Luke (LIB) voted against accepting a tender on the basis that it was too close to an election to do so.
The decision comes a few weeks after Lake Macquarie council partnered with other organisations to support a $3 million feasibility study into developing a green hydrogen hub at the Port of Newcastle.
It will assess its position as a potential end-user, but prior to that agreement the council had sought funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to purchase two hydrogen-powered garbage trucks and refuelling equipment to test their capability for future fleet rollout.
"Our existing fleet of 18 garbage trucks consumes 420,000 litres of diesel a year, emitting more than 1.1 million kilos of CO2 annually," the council's built and natural assets director David Hughes said.
The trucks would be "three times more expensive" to purchase than diesel equivalents, the council said.
"The refuelling equipment is also considerably more expensive. That's why this project is contingent on grant funding. The aim is to validate hydrogen as an alternative fuel source ... without additional cost to ratepayers."
The trucks would be trialed over five years to "robustly validate hydrogen" as a fuel source and accurately calculate ownership costs.
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: