Renewable energy is a mainstream election issue in the hotly-contested seat of Macedon.
Anti-wind farm laws introduced by the Coaltion government in 2011 have hit the Macedon Ranges hard. A large-scale blanket ban on wind farms now cuts across the electorate. The anti-wind farm laws have cost the region jobs, investment and killed off a community wind farm proposal.
Alastair Fleming, Climate Reality Leader and member of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group, explains why we need to shift to renewable energy in a letter published by the Macedon Ranges Guardian:
Action on global warming is needed now and the solutions need to be implemented quickly to stop the climate crisis becoming a climate catastrophe for our children and their children. A rapid decarbonisation of our energy supply is needed.
Put simply, the world including Australia, must move away from burning fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) for our electricity and heavy industry.
A transitional switch from coal to natural gas, which many people think is our best way forward, is only a partial solution – 50 per cent less CO2 emissions is still bad for the health of the planet, 50 per cent less tumours still means cancer.
Wind turbines, installed as part of suite of other renewables; including solar, Concentrated Solar Power, hydro, geothermal, biomass, tidal and wave energy generating technologies can deliver the necessary clean energy solutions.
Fortunately, the shrill claims that this will mean soaring power costs and plummeting economic growth are yesterday’s disinformation, now routinely touted only to protect the profitability of the fossil fuel generators.
As long as the renewable energy sector of the economy is allowed to continue its growth, electricity will become cheaper.
Retaining the Renewable Energy Target as is, and bolstering it after 2020, is a mechanism that will let this happen.
Wholesale electricity from new wind farms in Australia is now cheaper than from new coal or gas plants, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
In July, Queensland’s daytime wholesale electricity price fell in to negative territory for the first time, thanks, in part, to 1.1GW from more than 350,000 rooftop solar installations.
On September 30, all of South Australia’s electricity demand was effectively supplied by renewables, which have already exceeded the state’s mandated target of 33 per cent – six years early! It is heartening to see that, day after day, more renewable energy success stories emerge to debunk the doubters.
Over the last few months, Yes 2 Renewables supporters and the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group conducted a community survey on renewable energy and wind farm planning laws. We have undertaken the community consultation the Baillieu/Napthine governments should have done before imposing restrictions on wind energy developments. The results will soon be released.
Victorians are passionate about renewable energy. Polling commissioned by the Climate Institute finds 71 per cent of Victorians support state government policies that encourage more renewable energy.
Where to the parties stand?
When it comes to removing roadblocks to renewables, the Labor party has vowed to ‘rip up’ the Coalition government’s anti-wind farm laws. The Greens also support restoring fair laws for wind farms in the state.
When it comes encouraging the rollout of renewables, The Greens have endorsed our call for a Victorian Renewable Energy Target that works alongside a national RET scheme. The party calls for the establishment of a ‘for-profit’ Solar Bank owned by Victorians to help the state reach its 5 per cent solar target by 2020.
The Labor opposition has offered conditional support for a Victorian Renewable Energy Target. Labor’s Back to Work policy commits the party to “Establish a $200 million Future Industries Fund to drive the six high-growth sectors” including “new energy technologies.” The opposition also announced a $200 million Regional Jobs Fund that will support job-creating projects, including “companies investing in renewable energy.”
The Coalition still has time to adopt pro-renewable energy policies before November 29. The window of opportunity is there, but it’s closing.