Policy Watch: Vic Labor pledge to keep efficiency scheme as energy debate heats up 

The Victorian Labor party has introduced amendments to the Napthine government’s bill to scrap the successful Victorian Energy Efficiency Target. Labor’s amendments would prevent the government from cutting next year’s energy efficiency target and abolishing the scheme at the end of 2015 … Continue reading Policy Watch: Vic Labor pledge to keep efficiency scheme as energy debate heats up 

Napthine govt takes first step to fix wind farm laws, yet more reform needed

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The community-owned Hepburn Wind farm

According to The Weekly Times, the Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy will amend wind farm planning laws to allow already-approved wind farms to use the best-available technology.

Under the amended planning laws, wind energy companies will be permitted to make minor modifications to boost wind farm efficiency, such as increased turbine capacity or blade length.

Friends of the Earth welcome the changes. The Napthine government’s decision is an acknowledgment there are problems with the wind farm planning laws, and as a positive step forward by the government on wind energy.

The reforms build a foundation for more action. More reform is needed to create jobs and unleash investment in the Victorian renewable energy sector.  Continue reading “Napthine govt takes first step to fix wind farm laws, yet more reform needed”

Victoria’s anti-wind farm legislation now threatens the viability of pre-approved wind projects

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Premier Napthine and PM Tony Abbott sing from the same song sheet when it comes to renewable energy.

Numerous wind farm developments across Victoria may face termination due to the highly inflexible and restrictive nature of the Napthine government’s anti-wind farm laws and permit rules.

The Weekly Times report that the 20 companies successfully granted permits prior to the introduction of these laws have been denied the ability to make simple upgrades to their farm turbines.

These upgrades – designed merely to implement new and more efficient technology – would in no way infringe on conditions already held.

What’s more, the reluctance of the Napthine government and its Planning Minister Matthew Guy to accommodate for such rudimentary modifications could see the loss of considerable, and much-needed, revenue and employment to regional communities. Continue reading “Victoria’s anti-wind farm legislation now threatens the viability of pre-approved wind projects”

RET Road Trip finds strong support for renewables, no confidence in Warburton Review

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Y2R’s Shaun Murray and Leigh Ewbank take the RET Road Trip findings to Parliament House.

Clive Palmer’s surprise climate manoeuvre has sent a shockwave through the Abbott government’s policy agenda. After meeting with former US vice president Al Gore in the Parliament yesterday, Mr Palmer has stated his party’s support for the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the independent Climate Change Authority.

This changed political landscape gives Prime Minister Tony Abbott a reason to back away from an anti-renewable energy agenda. Originally intended to rationalise cutting the Renewable Energy Target, the Warburton review is now the key to achieving this policy shift.

The Renewable Energy Target is driving a national transition to renewable energy. All available public polling shows Australians endorse this vision, with a recent Climate Institute poll finding 72 per cent support to retain or increase the renewables target.

A weakened Renewable Energy Target threatens peoples’ jobs, health, and aspirations; billions of dollars worth of investment in a vital emerging industry; and importantly, an effective climate change mitigation tool. When we consider these impacts, the lack of public support for cutting the target comes as no surprise.

Over the course of two months, Friends of the Earth undertook a fact-finding RET Road Trip. We travelled over two thousand kilometres to speak with eight communities who have benefitted from renewable energy or have been affected by fossil fuel pollution. We did this to get a real understanding of the impacts of energy policy.

The RET Road Trip uncovered strong public support for the 41-terawatt-hour Renewable Energy Target.  Continue reading “RET Road Trip finds strong support for renewables, no confidence in Warburton Review”

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”

Policy Watch: NSW govt imposes ‘red tape’ on wind farms

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NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard

NSW Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard has directed that nine wind farm projects now be considered as State Significant Developments instead of being dealt with under the Part 3A transitional provisions that are a legacy from Labor’s time in office. This decision effectively places them back in the planning system.

The wind farms affected by the NSW government’s reactionary decision are:

  1. Yass
  2. Crookwell
  3. Liverpool Range
  4. Rugby
  5. Bango
  6. Uungula
  7. Crudine Ridge
  8. Paling Yards
  9. and Rye Park

It seems that NSW has joined the Victorian government in privileging a minority of vocal anti-wind campaigners over the majority of the community, who continue to support renewable energy. The previous planning system struck a sensible balance in decision making.

“The NSW government has sown the seeds of community division by reopening the planning process for these wind farms,” Yes 2 Renewables told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“A noisy minority refuse to accept wind energy and make unsubstantiated claims the technology has health impacts. This decision looks like a capitulation to those elements.” Continue reading “Policy Watch: NSW govt imposes ‘red tape’ on wind farms”

RET Watch: Time for Clive Palmer to clarify RET position

clive_palmer_UAP_adFederal politician and mining magnate Clive Palmer has left people confused about the Palmer United Party’s position on the Renewable Energy Target just days after announcing support for the popular policy.

On Tuesday, Palmer United Party (PUP) candidate in the rerun of the West Australian senate election, Dio Wang, backed the RET. Mr Wang said the RET “should remain as it is” and branded the Abbott government’s RET Review “a waste of taxpayers money.”

“It worries me when the government says everything is on the table in reviewing the RET,” said Wang. According to the PUP candidate, the RET “was the right scheme for maintaining and improving Australia’s environment.”

Party leader Clive Palmer seems to have softened his stance during an interview on ABC Breakfast with Fran Kelly. Mr Palmer reiterated Wang’s statement on the RET Review wasting taxpayer money, suggesting the government should stick to the findings of the previous review. 

Yet, Palmer no doubt left listeners confused by expressing a ‘philosophical’ opposition to the mandatory nature of the renewables target.  Mr Palmer also refused to be drawn on whether PUP would vote with The Greens to support the RET when the new senate takes effect.  Continue reading “RET Watch: Time for Clive Palmer to clarify RET position”

RET Watch: Qld sugar producer “nervous” about renewables target cut

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 11.06.19 AMA Queensland sugar producer selling clean energy to the grid has expressed concern about a possible cut the the Renewable Energy Target.

According to the Central Telegraph, Mackay Sugar have made a “solid investment” in cogeneration from crop waste and “want to make sure their future is stable.”

In 2012 Mackay Sugar opened a $120 million, 38MW cogeneration plant that generates enough electricity for one third of Mackay–cutting around 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

“Our biggest concern was with the unwinding of the RET,” Mackay Sugar chairman Andrew Cappello told the Central Telegraph. “I mean this is where we attract a lot of value for this cogeneration plant.” 

“This was a huge investment for us,” added Capello. “Given the size of our business, we have taken a pretty big risk. Until the main outcome (from) the review, we will remain a little nervous.”

Mr Capello’s concern is well-founded. The RET Review panel chaired by climate change denier Dick Warburton and stacked in favour of fossil fuel interests.
art-tony-abbott-620x349The Abbott government has done nothing to allay those fears. Continue reading “RET Watch: Qld sugar producer “nervous” about renewables target cut”

Crikey editorial calls for Coalition to stop “pandering” to anti-wind lobby

Crikey-306x190Crikey news have strongly endorsed the findings of the NHMRC’s recent review on wind energy and health. The online news paper calls on Coalition to stop ‘pandering’ to radical anti-wind farm fringe groups.

Here’s the editorial:

It’s time for politicians, particularly in the Coalition at both the state and federal level, to stop pandering to the nonsense and conspiracy theories of the anti-wind farm lobby. The health effects alleged to be caused by wind farms belong in the same category as chemtrails, the fluoridation conspiracy and anti-vaccination claims: they’re the preserve of tinfoil-wearers, cranks and vested interests.

The National Health and Medical Research Council yesterday release a draft report showing — yet again — the lack of any credible evidence for health problems linked to wind turbines.

Continue reading “Crikey editorial calls for Coalition to stop “pandering” to anti-wind lobby”

Pollie Watch: Ararat locals urge Dan Tehan to protect the RET

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Ararat locals urge Liberal MP Dan Tehan (third from the left) to protect the RET.

Ararat residents affiliated with the Victorian Wind Alliance have met with Dan Tehan, Liberal party member for Wannon, urging him to support the Renewable Energy Target.

With the Challicum Hills wind farm already operating in the region, this community is well aware of the benefits wind farms deliver. This is why they have launched a petition calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to leave the Renewable Energy Target alone.

T

he region is set to benefit from another wave of wind farm development, but only if the Renewable Energy Target is kept as it is. The 84MW Crowlands wind farm project is in the pipeline. If built, it will enough electricity to power 51,000 Victorian homes.

Yes 2 Renewables estimate the Crowlands wind farm will create: