On Global Wind Energy Day 2014, Yes 2 Renewables joined the Geelong Sustainability Group and Surf Coast Energy Group in an open letter (PDF) to candidates standing for the seat of South Barwon regarding their support for renewable energy.
The letter set out the barriers to renewable energy and jobs in the Geelong and Surf Coast region—namely, the Napthine government’s anti-wind farm laws and absence of a state renewable energy target—and invited South Barwon candidates to be transparent with their position on the issues.
While we’re still waiting for responses from the Labor and Liberal party, our open letter made it all the way into the hands of Victorian Greens leader, Greg Barber, who had the following to say:
“The wind turbine at Bremlea will be the last ever built on the Bellarine unless the Liberals anti wind farm rules are scrapped. The Greens voted against those rules in this parliament and we will reverse them if we can get the votes in the next parliament.”
“There are already permits approved for nearly a thousand wind turbines in Victoria. They are ready to start construction, but the attacks by the federal government on the Renewable Energy Target are holding back investment. Some wind farms need their permits extended as a result. Others want to upgrade to new wind turbine technology. We will continue to pursue the planning minister on that, whoever it turns out to be after the state election.
“We can do more in the state parliament. I’m looking forward to working with local communities, environment groups and the energy industry on designing a Victorian Renewable Energy Target, to help meet the Greens policy commitment.
“We need to set an early closing date for the Anglesea coal mine and power station. We need a retraining program so that workers can get new jobs in the new wind farms. Skilled electrical and mechanical engineers need only a small amount of training to switch from coal fired power stations to wind farms.
“Constructing nearly 1000 turbines across Victoria, particularly in the Geelong and south west area, will create many construction jobs.
“We have also launched a plan to boost solar, by guaranteeing a fair price for the extra power solar panels feed into the grid, and providing finance to those who don’t have the money up front to buy panels.”
Yes 2 Renewables and our partners welcome Mr Barber’s response. It’s encouraging to see a political party rally behind the idea of a Victorian Renewable Energy Target —a policy that will create investment certainty, create jobs, and cut pollution.
Labor’s vow to “rip up” the Napthine government’s anti-wind farm laws is well known and inline with the community’s views. A recent Climate Institute poll found strong support for wind energy.
The Labor party 2014 platform also states a commitment to:
- Complete a strategic assessment of the appropriate timeframe for achieving a major expansion of renewable energy in Victoria once the Federal Government’s review of the RET has concluded
- Create Industry Development Plans to support the growth of bio-energy, marine energy, geothermal energy and energy storage technologies
- Compensate households and businesses that provide excess clean energy to the grid
It remains to be seen whether a Victorian Renewable Energy Target is on the table as a mechanism for developing the state’s renewable energy sector.
To date, leadership on renewable energy has been constrained to the Labor opposition and Greens. The same can’t be said of the Napthine government, whose stance on renewable energy is patently regressive.
The Napthine government decided to remain hitched to former-Premier Ted Baillieu’s unpopular anti-wind farm laws. In May, the Premier showed little interest supporting Portland’s wind workers whose jobs are under threat from the Warburton review of the Renewable Energy Target. In relation to the latter, the government’s submission called on the national Renewable Energy Target to be reduced and diluted with the inclusion of gas.
While 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.
How much longer will Victoria be without a target renewable energy?
- Support renewable energy and 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 back 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.