Policy Watch: Wind farmers to benefit from tax changes… But only if RET remains intact

Views Of J-Power's Nunobiki Wind FarmA proposed amendment to the Farm Management Deposits (FMD) Scheme could see the non-agricultural production income threshold for farmers nationwide extended, allowing those participating to draw more income from wind farms without penalty.

The FMD scheme is a piece of legislation designed to assist farmers in preparing for conditions of financial hardship by providing a tax deductible form of income-banking in times of plenty.

Under the amended system, there will be greater scope for farmers to reserve income from non-agricultural sources, such as rents paid on wind farms, when afflicted by drought or other natural disasters.

The increased income, for many, will be crucial in determining the viability of ongoing commitment to agriculture, according to Deputy Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Council (CEC), Kane Thornton, who noted that

“In many cases we have seen that hosting wind turbines has been the difference between staying on the land and being forced to sell the family farm.”

These decisions, however, must also take into consideration the predicted increase in frequency of natural disasters, like drought and bushfires, exacerbated by inadequate national action on climate change. Continue reading “Policy Watch: Wind farmers to benefit from tax changes… But only if RET remains intact”

A wind farmers story…

In Australia the noisy and misleading petitions of the anti-wind farm lobby, and the politicians who echo these claims, tend to drown out the quiet successes that have been accumulating across the country since the industry’s inception.

It is for this reason that stories like those of Ararat farmer Graeme Maconachie’s (see video below produced by our friends, the Victorian Wind Alliance) can still provide a potent reminder of wind power’s ready benefits to struggling rural economies, but also to the prospects of future generations.

Projects like the 52.5MW Challicum Hills wind farm featured in the video, which has supplied the region with much needed employment, investment and emissions abatement (140,000 tones p.a) opportunities since 2002, however, are at risk.  

Continue reading “A wind farmers story…”

Pollie Watch: Victoria’s new energy minister at the crossroads

Last week, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine injected new blood into his frontbench in preparation for the state election this November, promoting member for Morwell Russell Northe as Minister for Energy and Resources.

Victoria’s new Minister for Energy, Russell Northe

Northe steps into the role at a time of great uncertainty surrounding  the energy sector. The Abbott government’s stacked RET Review clouds the prospects for renewable energy in the country and compounds the impact of  Victoria’s anti-wind farm laws. The rooftop solar boom continues to disrupt the business model of the big fossil-fuel-based energy companies and the last scrap of coal power’s social licence went up in the recent fire at the Hazelwood coalmine.

The context of energy policy (and politics) is well known. Yet Victoria’s new energy minister is Russell Northe is somewhat of an unknown quantity. Yes 2 Renewables had a look over Northe’s record to get a better sense of the man. Here’s what we found. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Victoria’s new energy minister at the crossroads”

No need for polluting Alcoa coal plant

ImageEnvironment group Friends of the Earth say there’s no need for Alcoa to be granted a license to generate electricity at their Anglesea coal power plant. Rather, the plant that came online in the 1960s should be retired—delivering public health and climate change benefits for Victorians.

The current state of the energy market makes the retirement of the coal power plant possible. There’s now an oversupply of fossil fuel generators in the energy system.

The oversupply is due to decreasing electricity demand from increased energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar and wind farms coming online.

In its application, Alcoa says the impacts of not granting the license on electricity prices and reliability must be considered. Removing 150 megawatts of polluting coal power is really a drop in the ocean in terms of power prices. The impact of rejecting Alcoa’s generation license on electricity prices would be virtually undetectable.

Retiring the Alcoa coal power station will barely affect power prices, yet will deliver benefits for the local community who are sick of pollution spewing over their community. It will also deliver sizable carbon emissions savings and help Victorians address climate change. Continue reading “No need for polluting Alcoa coal plant”

Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister challenges Napthine’s renewables record

The Victorian Labor Party is building a reputation for supporting renewable energy. On several occasions over the last year, shadow energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio has outlined Labor’s stance on renewable energy. At a conference in Melbourne last year, D’Ambrosio critiqued the … Continue reading Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister challenges Napthine’s renewables record

Good news for wind energy!

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Today is a good news day for wind energy in Victoria. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation announced it will provide a $70 million loan to Pacific Hydro to complete the final stage of the Portland Wind Energy Project.

Reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Hannam writes:

The $10 billion green investment bank, set to be scrapped by the incoming Coalition government, has issued a loan to Pacific Hydro to build the final stage of its Portland wind farm in what is likely to be among the bank’s final deals.

The project will create hundreds of jobs, increase market competition and provide enough clean energy to power 31,000 homes, according to Pacific Hydro.

The CEFC’s backing of the final stage of the Portland wind energy project is a welcome boost for Victoria’s wind energy sector. It will create jobs in the South West while cleaning up the state’s polluting energy sector. The ambitious Portland Wind Energy Project was approved by the Bracks Labor government and has been over a decade in the making.

Good news stories in the wind energy sector are few and far between since the Baillieu government introduced the world’s most restrictive anti-wind farm laws, which have cost the state jobs, investment, income for farmers and clean energy.  Continue reading “Good news for wind energy!”

Anti-wind laws keep unsustainable coal power online

FB Y2R GraphicVictoria’s brown coal sector is in a state of crisis.

The Latrobe Valley Express newspaper revealed that the river diversion at the Yallourn coal mine has once again failed, spilling millions of litres of fresh river water into the open pit.

“River water is cascading into Yallourn open cut once again,” writes The Latrobe Valley Express, “pushing a coal supply conveyor to the brink of inoperability.”

“Hundreds of millions of litres of water have been flooding into Yallourn’s East Field mine every day since late last week, after ongoing localised rainfall pushed the mine’s water management plan to its limits.”

“As of Friday, the East Field mine contained a gigalitre of water, and was taking on 300 megalitres every day, an intake rate which was expected to increase over the weekend.”

Coal is an unsustainable energy source.

Wind farms can end Victoria’s reliance polluting and unsustainable fossil fuels, yet anti-wind farm laws introduced by Ted Baillieu and endorsed by Premier Napthine stand in the way.  Continue reading “Anti-wind laws keep unsustainable coal power online”

Wind energy breaks records, yet opposition remains in Liberal ranks

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 4.46.55 PMBlustery conditions in South Australia and Victoria over the last few weeks have helped wind energy break records. Peter Hannam reported Australia’s wind farms generated 7.6 percent of electricity in the national grid–enough to power 2.3 million homes.

Given the proven ability of the technology, one wonders why the Liberal party has put forward several candidates this election who are opposed to wind energy.

One of which is the candidate for the seat of Hume, Angus Taylor, who has emerged as a staunch critic of wind energy and the national Renewable Energy Target–Australia’s most effective climate change policy. Mr Taylor even threw his weight behind a ‘wind power fraud’ rally organised by radical fringe groups at Parliament House in June.

Another is Sarah Henderson, who is running in Australia’s most marginal seat, Corangamite. Ms Henderson recently backed Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws at a community forum. According to Henderson wind farms are “dividing communities.”

Dividing communities?… I don’t think so. Continue reading “Wind energy breaks records, yet opposition remains in Liberal ranks”

Corangamite voters demand an end to double standards on energy

After publishing a report on the Coalition candidate for Corangamite Sarah Henderson’s support for the state government’s anti wind farm laws, Yes 2 Renewables received the following letter from Corangamite residents Mik Aidt and Anthony Gleeson.

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Mik is a Geelong-based sustainability journalist and founder of Parents for Climate Action. Hailing from Denmark, which is a world leader in wind energy, Aidt tells me Danes support clean renewable energy from the wind and find the opposition here in Australia bizarre. Mik is spearheading a petition to encourage local political leaders to make Geelong fossil fuel free. You can sign it here.

Anthony is a Corangamite resident and member of the Surf Coast Energy Group and Surf Coast Air Action. As a new grandfather, Gleeson is passionate about addressing climate change. Here’s the joint letter they sent to local publications:

Continue reading “Corangamite voters demand an end to double standards on energy”