Pollie Watch: Victorian Labor Sheds Light on Wind Energy Position

The community-owned Hepburn wind project, winner of the World Wind Energy Award 2012.

The Victorian Labor party has shed light on its position on wind energy as the full impact of the Baillieu government’s anti-windfarm laws become clear. While the Opposition didn’t go as far as pledging to repeal the VC82 planning amendments, the Labor party’s comments reflect a clear point of difference from the Baillieu government.

Neelima Choahan of the Ballarat Courier reports (‘Labor Backs Wind Energy,’ July 27):

A state Labor Government would support investment in wind energy in Victoria, Shadow Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio said.

But Ms D’Ambrosio, who was visiting Hepburn wind farm yesterday, refused to comment on whether the support would include a rolling back of the contentious two kilometre buffer zone.

Labor is keeping their cards close to their chest on the issue. The Shadow Minister for Energy is effectively saying opposition policy on wind energy is still a work in progress:

Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Energy, Lily D’Ambrosio

‘We will be developing a policy closer to the election,’ Ms D’Ambrosio said.

‘Wind energy had the green light under the previous government. We remain a great supporter in Opposition and we believe that whatever policy we develop prior to the election will reflect our support for wind energy and investments as jobs to regional Victoria.’

Yes 2 Renewables will pay close attention to the development of the Opposition’s wind energy policy, so keep your eyes on the Y2R blog for updates.

One area for which Opposition deserves credit is its acknowledgement of the damage the Baillieu government has caused Victoria’s once booming wind energy sector. ‘In Victoria, the Baillieu government is detrimental to the wind industry,’ D’Ambrossio said. Just how detrimental have the Baillieu government’s anti-wind energy laws been? Well, here’s a quick recap. The collapse of Victoria’s windfarm project pipeline has cost Victoria up to:

  • $887 million in lost or stalled investment
  • 650 direct jobs lost or stalled in construction
  • 54 on-going jobs in management of wind farms
  • 1408 indirectly associated (flow-on) jobs
  • Projects totalling up to 204 turbines and 408MW of generating capacity

Russell Marsh, policy director for the Clean Energy Council, says the costs of VC82 are even greater:

‘It is estimated that more than $4 billion in potential wind-farm investment, which could power the equivalent of 1.8 million homes using clean energy and generate around 3000 jobs, will go to other states.’

With thousands of jobs and billions in investment at stake, the parties that support restoring sensible planning guidelines for windfarms will have an electoral edge in 2014.

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