Surf Coast Energy Group backs wind farms, jobs in Victoria

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 3.13.54 PMFriends of the Earth‘s recent report on the costs of anti-wind farm laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu, and supported by the Napthine government, has put renewable energy on the state election agenda.

The Age featured exclusive coverage of the research report. The Surf Coast Times and Macedon Ranges Guardian, newspapers in the battleground seats of South Barwon and Macedon, reported on the local impacts of the Coalition’s anti-wind farm laws.

These local impacts prompted Surf Coast councillor Eve Fisher  to draft a motion calling for community-initiated projects to be exempted from the state government’s restrictive planning laws.

President of the Surf Coast Energy Group, Aaron Lewtas, has entered the debate. Lewtas sees wind energy as an opportunity to create jobs and strengthen economies while tackling climate change: 

Surf Coast Councillor Eve Fischer should be applauded for calling on the State Government to remove restrictive anti-wind farm planning laws.

Victoria’s wind energy sector has been strangled recently, with a recent Friends of the Earth study estimating Victoria has missed out on 490 construction jobs, 64 ongoing jobs, $864 million in investment and $10.5 million worth of flow-on activity to regional economies think about the benefits of drought proofing for host farmers, community grants, council rates and indirect spending by construction workers.

If you add the potential for wind power to lower the price of your electricity bill, we don’t even have to talk about climate change and it seems that there are good reasons why Australians rate wind second behind solar as their preferred power source.

The Australian Medical Association gives wind power the tick of approval and 20 reviews by credible health bodies into wind turbine sickness conclude that wind energy is clean and safe.

Political leaders should start the transition away from coal and start thinking seriously about the industries of the future.

The Labor party has vowed to ‘rip up‘ the restrictions on wind farms. The unprecedented 2km setback and right of veto and arbitrary ‘no-go zones’ that ban wind farms in the windiest parts of the state will go under a Labor government. The Greens also support repealing the restrictions on wind farms.

Restoring fair wind farm laws for Victoria offers a lifeline for Geelong manufacturers. Trends in the United States demonstrate that a strong pipeline of wind farm projects results in increased domestic manufacturing. The US Department of Energy notes:

Seventy-two per cent of the wind turbine equipment installed in the U.S. last year [2012] was made by domestic manufacturers, nearly tripling from 25 percent in 2006-2007.

Could a similar trend be replicated in Victoria? There would be a strong development pipeline in Victoria if the wind farms killed off by Baillieu’s planning laws (438MW) and those stalled by uncertainty from the Renewable Energy Target review (~400MW) could get underway.

A-wind-turbine-manufactur-006Premier Napthine still has time to dump Baillieu’s brown tape before the November election. After all, the Premier has benefitted more from wind energy than any other politician in Victoria (and perhaps even Australia).

Residents of the greater Geelong region know where Labor and the Greens stand on the issue. Where does the Liberal member for South Barwon, Andrew Katos, stand? Will Mr Katos go into bat or wind energy and the manufacturing opportunities it offers Geelong? Time will tell…

TAKE ACTION:

  • Support cleantech jobs for Victoria? Sign our petition calling on Premier Napthine to scrap Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws and both the Premier and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews to support renewable energy.
  • Volunteer with Yes 2 Renewables and help us build a pro-renewables movement. Only when Victorians are active will the politicians get serious about renewable energy. Contact us here to express interest or email leigh.ewbank [at] foe.org.au for more information.
  • Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Follow the Surf Coast Energy Group on Facebook and Twitter.

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