Keppel Prince Engineering

Wind industry jobs falling into a Federal black hole

Last week, we heard that Keppel Prince Engineering may need to lay off up to 100 of its 450 workers after May due to a drop-off in demand for wind turbines as current projects come to a close.

We have an article at Online Opinion discussing the reasons and some suggested solutions to the problem:

After so much noise from the angry, anti-science, anti-wind farm campaigners that state Liberal governments are championing, you might blame layoffs at Victoria’s biggest turbine construction company on the Baillieu government’s 2011 anti-windfarm laws and their antipathy to strong climate action.

That company, Keppel Prince Engineering, is seeking volunteers for redundancies. General manager Steve Garner told the ABC, “All we’re doing is pre-empting what we see as another black hole in our production coming after May of this year.”

Baillieu’s wind farm planning laws, and now the axeing of the more ambitious state greenhouse targets, do pose a grave threat to the future of renewable energy. The 2011 wind farm laws are costing our state more than $500 million in lost investment and close to 500 future jobs.

But jobs at Keppel Prince are being lost now. Why? In this case, it’s due to Federal policy failings.

While the Renewable Energy Target is up for review, we note that “Those who are serious about addressing Australia’s enormous carbon emissions are starting to call for the most successful system, internationally: a Feed-in Tariff (FIT).”

You can read our full discussion piece at Online Opinion.

Keppel Prince Engineering
Keppel Prince Engineering, Portland

The Weekly Times has also covered the issue.

General manager Steve Garner said the wind farm work would dry up in the next two months as production finished for the 140-turbine Macarthur wind farm and a smaller 13-turbine project.

“The wind energy industry’s promise of ‘project, project, project’ just hasn’t materialised,” he said. “There are just so many projects that are still in a state of limbo waiting to try and secure funding.”

The optimism of green energy companies has dimmed since the carbon tax legislation was passed last year, amid political uncertainty and growing concern over the forthcoming review of the 20 per cent by 2020 renewable energy target. The oversupply of renewable energy certificates has also held electricity retailers back from new investment.

Australian Steel Institute industry development manager Ian Cairns said the Gillard government needed to provide terms of reference for the RET review as soon as possible to provide clarity for the renewable industry.

“The government certainly caused these problems with the renewable energy certificates and the oversupply,” he said. “The carbon tax was supposed to bring green manufacturing jobs.

“You can’t get much greener than a solar farm or a wind farm, but we’re seeing jobs being lost because of inaction from government around the RECs and the RET.”


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