New Matilda: Smelters, Wind Turbines and Jobs

Published by New Matilda. Read the original article.

By Ben Eltham

The Victorian town of Portland is home to a huge aluminium smelter – and two big firms in the wind business. It’s an ideal place to witness the changes in the Australian energy industry, writes Ben Eltham

Cruising just above the cloud line above western Victoria, the farmland rolls out in tidy checkerboards, dotted with haystacks and sheep.

Fluffy cumulus casts irregular shadows across the landscape, while a dirty grey smudge heralds a spring shower ahead. Apart from the vast brown and green rectangles of cropland, perhaps the most noticeable landmark is a long line of high-voltage electricity towers, suspending thin grey power cables in long spooling droops. They stretch out in linear discipline all the way toward a small town, hugging the coast in the distance ahead. Our little twin-prop Metroliner bucks and yaws in the breeze, but none of the passengers look too concerned.

Suddenly, the engines heighten in pitch and our plane rolls left, showcasing dramatic views of a tall ocean bluff, topped with dozens of lazily spinning wind turbines. Out the other side of the plane, I can catch a glimpse of our destination: the town of Portland in western Victoria.

I’m visiting Portland thanks to the assistance of energy company Pacific Hydro, which paid for these flights and whose assistance it’s important to disclose. I’ve accepted their assistance because Portland is one of the best places to see the transformation under way in Australian energy.

Continue reading “New Matilda: Smelters, Wind Turbines and Jobs”

Portland wind tower manufacturer to expand operations

This article is from the Portland Observer, journalist: Bill Meldrum. A note of caution amongst this good news: “It is understood there is still strong concern within Keppel Prince and wind energy companies to proposed moves by the government to put further planning controls on wind farm developments within Victoria.” Keppel plans to expand PORTLAND wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince Engineering is planning a new $6 million blasting and painting facility. The board of its parent company Singapore-based Keppel Integrated Engineering Ltd has approved the expansion on the proviso that Keppel Prince Engineering secures more work. The expansion plans were … Continue reading Portland wind tower manufacturer to expand operations

government policy threatens wind sector jobs

From the Portland Observer, 4 April 2011 Journalist: Bill Meldrum Winds of change threaten jobs THE cold, icy wind of government policy is once again blowing the fear of job losses through the factory of wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince Engineering. A raft of changes to state planning laws aimed at protecting landholders who live within two kilometres of a proposed wind turbine site, potentially scuttling wind farm projects, are being introduced into parliament. It has the company’s managing director, Steve Garner, once again talking about the prospect of relocating the factory and jobs interstate to greener pastures, if Planning … Continue reading government policy threatens wind sector jobs

‘Imported turbines threaten south-west workers’

The following comes from the Warrnambool Standard, journalist is Alex Sinnott. Friends of the Earth strongly supports local procurement policies, as they will drive local jobs and build manufacturing capacity. However, it does seem strange – to say the least – for Coalition MP Denis Napthine to express concern about lost jobs attached to wind turbines when his government is currently implementing a policy which is expected to have a chilling effect on future development of the wind industry in the state. 26 Mar, 2011 Imported turbines threaten south-west workers SOUTH-WEST wind turbine manufacturer Keppel Prince is at the centre … Continue reading ‘Imported turbines threaten south-west workers’