PM Abbott’s plan to axe the Renewable Energy Target “out of touch” and a disaster for jobs

The Australian Financial Review report today that the Abbott government is considering “axing” the Renewable Energy Target—Australia’s flagship renewable energy policy. Reports that the Abbott government is contemplating taking the axe to the Renewable Energy Target further demonstrates how out of touch it is with … Continue reading PM Abbott’s plan to axe the Renewable Energy Target “out of touch” and a disaster for jobs

‘Protect the RET’, write Western Vic councillors to PM

Featured Image -- 8638The mayors of Ararat, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees shires will write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, calling for the 41-terawatt-hour Renewable Energy Target to be retained.

The Mayors from western Victoria fear a weakened Renewable Energy Target will kill off proposed wind farms in the region. For local councillors, that means jobs, investment, drought-proof income for farmers and rates are on the line.

Emma D’Agostino reports for The Wimmera Mail Times:

Northern Grampians Shire Council will also help draft a letter to Mr Abbott about the importance of wind farms planned for Northern Grampians, Ararat and Pyrenees municipalities.

Cr Erwin said the proposed wind farms were at risk if the Renewable Energy Target was wound back.

“The wind farms at Crowlands, Ararat, Bulgana and Stockyard Hill are potentially a $1.68-billion investment in our region that will provide $1.3 million a year in rates to our councils, $300,000 a year to community groups and create 60 direct and 74 indirect ongoing jobs,” he said.

The opportunities of renewable energy in western Victoria are not news to Yes 2 Renewables. We visited Ararat in May as part of our RET Road Trip.  Continue reading “‘Protect the RET’, write Western Vic councillors to PM”

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”

RET Road Trip 8: Renewables Energy Target creates jobs, investment on Canberra’s doorstep

Capital GroupshotFriends of the Earth wrapped up its fact-finding RET Review Road Trip at the Capital wind farm on Thursday June 19—right on Canberra’s doorstep.

We’ve travelled over two thousand kilometres to speak with communities who have benefitted from renewable energy or have been affected by fossil fuel pollution.

When it comes to a Australia’s energy future, the communities we spoke with want more renewable energy. They want politicians to support the existing 41-terawatt-hour Renewable Energy Target.

Continue reading “RET Road Trip 8: Renewables Energy Target creates jobs, investment on Canberra’s doorstep”

RET Road Trip #7 – Blue seats and renewable energy

Group Brighton

Published at Renew Economy.

In the last week of May, Friends of the Earth visited solar homeowners in affluent bayside suburb of Brighton East.

We had previously visited Victoria’s leading solar suburbs of Werribee, Hoppers Crossing and Point Cook. Our trip to Brighton East was to get a sense of what people in a long-standing Liberal seat think of the Warbuton Review and Australia’s energy future.

It turns out that there isn’t really any difference between the two. Like the residents of Melbourne’s western suburbs, the people we spoke with in the seat of Goldstein – the seat held by senior cabinet minister, Andrew Robb – see renewables as the future. The people we spoke with don’t want politicians to weaken the Renewable Energy Target.

Upon arriving at the Coats household in Brighton East we were presented with the inverter and a quick briefing on how much electricity the rooftop solar set up had produced to date.

InverterThe Coats’ 1.5kW solar energy system has made the home a suburban a clean energy power station. For the past five years, it has covered all of the household’s electricity needs.

“It’s fantastic knowing that we never have to worry about another electricity bill. In fact, our energy company owes us,” said Mrs Coats. “It also gives us a lot of pleasure to know that we’re producing our own clean energy and feeding it back into the grid for other people to use.”

Every solar homeowner I meet has an immense pride about their solar system. There’s a sense of achievement in generating your own energy and acting to address climate change. And, let’s not forget the power bill that is now perpetually in credit.

There are an estimated 2,792 solar homes in the seat of Goldstein. Solar has delivered $1.56 million worth of savings on power bills to those who have panels. In the wake of the Victorian government’s decision to reduce the feed-in tariff for solar, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) is the next best support mechanism for those with solar aspirations. Continue reading “RET Road Trip #7 – Blue seats and renewable energy”

Jobs at risk: Vic Premier wants Renewable Energy Target weakened

ds_napthine2_20130306205347313453-620x349Friends of the Earth call on Premier Denis Napthine to clarify the Victorian government’s position on the Renewable Energy Target.

According to The Age, the Victorian government’s submission to the Warburton Review calls for the Renewable Energy Target to be reduced and for polluting gas power to be included in the scheme.

The Premier seems confused about renewable energy. Victorians understand the difference and want the Premier to support the 41 terrawatt hour Renewable Energy Target.

Wind workers in the Premier’s own electorate have called on Dr Napthine to join Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman to oppose changes to the 41 Terrawatt hour target.

Wind energy is the cheapest new-build electricity source in Australia, and solar is getting cheaper each year. Gas, on the other hand, will get more expensive over time. Australia can leap frog increasingly expensive fossil fuels by switching straight to renewables.

The Napthine government’s support for gas means renewable energy jobs in Victoria are at risk. It undercut jobs in the Victorian renewable energy sector – including 700 wind energy jobs in his electorate. Continue reading “Jobs at risk: Vic Premier wants Renewable Energy Target weakened”

Warburton Review is loading the dice against Renewable Energy Target

RET MeetingOn Friday May 30, Friends of the Earth took a principled stand against the flawed Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target. Shaun Murray and Leigh Ewbank walked out of a meeting with the Warburton Review after receiving inadequate responses to questions about the process.

Friends of the Earth wasn’t the only group in the room last Friday. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Australian Wind Alliance were there too. And they share our concern that the Warburton Review is loading the dice against renewable energy.

“Many of the people I represent would sympathise with the frustration felt by Friends of the Earth representatives,” said Andrew Bray, National Coordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance.

“Though the RET review’s terms of reference state it must examine the social impacts of the RET, there are no plans to model the social benefits that wind farms bring to regional economies to guide its recommendations.”

AWA_Facebook_Profile_Pic_v01_p02_sml“With hundreds of our members making individual submissions to highlight the social and local economic benefits of the RET to date, we can only hope that the voices of rural people will be heard.

Phoebe Howe from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition left the meeting concerned that widespread support of renewable energy in Australia’s communities may not be factored into the review. Continue reading “Warburton Review is loading the dice against Renewable Energy Target”

The Warburton RET Review: Why we walked…

RET MeetingIn Melbourne today, Friends of the Earth met with the Warburton review of the Renewable Energy Target. We attended the meeting in good faith to raise concerns regarding the review process.

Based on the responses, we can only conclude that the Warburton review is not credible. It is deeply compromised.

Friends of the Earth have a track record of engaging constructively with governments in the policy process, even when the odds are stacked against good outcomes for our environment. In this case, it appears the review is leading to a predetermined outcome to weaken the Renewable Energy Target.

The review is led by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton and panel members with close connections to the fossil fuel sector. There is no renewable energy sector representation. The review is only modeling a scenario that assumes no carbon pricing or equivalent mechanism will be in effect between now and 2030.

As a matter of principle, we could not take part in a box ticking exercise when peoples’ jobs and action on climate change are on the line.

Friends of the Earth, who are undertaking an 11-stop fact-finding RET Review Road Trip to get a real understanding of how energy policy affects communities, say today’s meeting confirms public skepticism about the process.

We’ve heard directly from community members that the Warburton review of the Renewable Energy Target lacks credibility.

The Warburton review has been referred to as ‘ideologically driven’ and a ‘witch hunt.’ It is fair and accurate to say, that for many in the community, the review lacks public confidence.

The Abbott government has no other choice but to disregard the findings of the Warburton Review and instruct the Climate Change Authority to commence their own investigation, as required by legislation.

Below is a statement, questions, and concluding remark that was presented to the Warburton Review panel in Melbourne this morning. Continue reading “The Warburton RET Review: Why we walked…”

RET Road Trip #6 – Special treatment for fossil fuels in Anglesea

On May 22, Friends of the Earth visited Anglesea for the sixth leg of the RET Road Trip. The seaside town of Anglesea is best known for its surf and summer vacations. What’s lesser known is that Anglesea is home … Continue reading RET Road Trip #6 – Special treatment for fossil fuels in Anglesea

RET Road Trip #5 – Warburton review threatens solar future

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Yes 2 Renewables are out meeting with Australians to discuss how renewables are benefitting them – Why isn’t Warbo?

Published at Renew Economy.

On Friday May 16, Friends of the Earth’s fact-finding RET Review Road Trip visited Victoria’s leading solar suburbs—Hoppers Crossing, Werribee and Point Cook.

What did we find? In a nutshell: The suburbs get it. Solar is viewed as an indispensible new technology that is cutting power bills.

The Renewable Energy Target and other state-based incentives have helped homeowners in Hoppers Crossing, Werribee and Point Cook install a 8,052 solar photovoltaic systems and 14,213 solar hot water systems on their roofs.

One such homeowner is Coralee Klement, a retiree and Werribee resident. Coralee’s 8.3kW solar energy system has made the suburban home clean energy power station. It currently covers all of her energy bills, except for a small gas bill in winter.

“We couldn’t afford not to do it,” Carolee told us. “Electricity bills were getting too expensive. Even in winter we’re in credit with the energy company.”

“We went solar as an investment,” explains Ms Klement. “My super was getting a limited return and dwindling because of fees. The solar system has delivered a good return on investment as well as the environmental benefit to the community.”

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Carolee explains to her neighbour how rooftop solar has cut her power bill.

The rooftop solar revolution has seen Australians install a massive 3.2 gigawatts of solar power spread over 1.3 millions homes. More than 3 million people now live in a home that generates clean electricity. If you’re looking for a metric for public support for the Renewable Energy target, this is it.

The solar suburbs have set their sights high. They have ambitions beyond intermittent generation. Solar homeowners like Carolee see the credit on their power bill and want to use it to save money on transport fuel costs.

“Once battery storage is available we’d voluntarily take ourselves off grid,” said Carolee. “We’d like to get an electric car one day to do away with the petrol costs.”

It’s this ambition that governments ignore at their peril. Continue reading “RET Road Trip #5 – Warburton review threatens solar future”