‘Protect the RET’, write Western Vic councillors to PM

Featured Image -- 8638The mayors of Ararat, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees shires will write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, calling for the 41-terawatt-hour Renewable Energy Target to be retained.

The Mayors from western Victoria fear a weakened Renewable Energy Target will kill off proposed wind farms in the region. For local councillors, that means jobs, investment, drought-proof income for farmers and rates are on the line.

Emma D’Agostino reports for The Wimmera Mail Times:

Northern Grampians Shire Council will also help draft a letter to Mr Abbott about the importance of wind farms planned for Northern Grampians, Ararat and Pyrenees municipalities.

Cr Erwin said the proposed wind farms were at risk if the Renewable Energy Target was wound back.

“The wind farms at Crowlands, Ararat, Bulgana and Stockyard Hill are potentially a $1.68-billion investment in our region that will provide $1.3 million a year in rates to our councils, $300,000 a year to community groups and create 60 direct and 74 indirect ongoing jobs,” he said.

The opportunities of renewable energy in western Victoria are not news to Yes 2 Renewables. We visited Ararat in May as part of our RET Road Trip. 

“Wind energy is the largest ratepayer in our shire,” Mayor Paul Hooper of Ararat Rural City told us in May. “It makes a significant contribution to the municipality—helping council deliver essential services for the community.”

“Keeping the Renewable Energy Target as it is will provide the certainty needed for more regions to benefit from wind farms,” said Mayor Kevin Erwin of the Northern Grampians Shire. “Wind farms create jobs and investment for regional economies.”

The government has yet to announce its position on the Renewable Energy Target – though it has floated the unusual idea of giving aluminium smelters special treatment by excluding them from the scheme.

Whatever the government planned, its review and posturing appears moot now the Palmer United Party has announced its support for the 41-terawatt-hour Renewable Energy Target. Shelving the Warburton review and returning to a longstanding position of support for the scheme is now viable option for the Abbott government. Such a policy shift would be a popular move, and a politically astute one given the government  fading support in the polls.

322151-7278f63e-d04d-11e3-8fb0-f8d7f99ee21fWhile much of the focus on renewable energy has been on the federal level, one mustn’t forget the positive role the state government can play to create certainty for the renewable energy sector. South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT all have Renewable Energy Targets in place. Yet Victoria has been without target — ambition — for years.

If we don’t know where we’re headed, how will we get there?

It’s time for the Victorian government to set a Renewable Energy Target for the state. It will send a clear signal to the nascent sector that Victoria is the place to be for renewable energy. Most importantly, it’ll provide an incentive for state policymakers to accelerate the rollout of renewables and a means for the public to hold politicians to account for their performance.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Support cleantech jobs for Victoria? Sign our petition calling on Premier Napthine to scrap the 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.

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