Friends 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 report highlights the double standards in Victoria’s energy policy: It’s one rule for fossil fuel generators and another for renewables.
This double standard has struck a chord in the Surf Coast region where a coal mine and power plant operates in close proximity to the town of Anglesea.
Residents who are sick of the pollution from the Alcoa-owned coal plant are building a campaign to Shut It Down. Alcoa want to sell the facility in the wake of the closure of the Point Henry smelter. Alcoa have submitted a license to generate electricity with the Essential Services Commission, which if approved, would allow the generator to dispatch electricity to the grid. The ESC is expected to announce it decision in months.
Recently, Surf Coast councillor Eve Fisher drafted a motion calling to restore some balance to Victorian energy policy. Fisher’s draft motion called on the Napthine government to exempt community-initiated wind farms projects from the restrictive planning laws.
In the dying days of the 2013 federal election, wind energy emerges as an issue for voters in Corangamite.
At the time, Liberal candidate and now elected member of parliament Sarah Henderson proclaimed her support for Ted Baillieu’s unpopular anti-wind farm laws in a town hall meeting in Torquay. Henderson’s endorsement of planning laws which have cost the state millions in investment, hundreds of jobs and crucial renewable energy capacity, was an uncharacteristic gaffe.
Blustery 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.”