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.
The newly elected Abbott government renewable energy policies have the sector and environment groups worried. It has committed to review the RET, impose real-time sound monitoring at wind farms, and conduct another study in wind farms an health.
According to Crikey, which conducted a survey of sitting Liberal party MPs in September, the Coalition draws new-blank support for wind farms. Only one Liberal MP, Warren Entsch, is on the record with a clear position of support for wind energy. Others such as Minister for Environment Greg Hunt and Minister for Energy Ian Macfarlane are ‘on the fence’. Leading progressive Liberal Malcolm Turnbull ‘shows promise’ but could try harder.
Retired Liberal Senator and wind energy champion, Peter Rae (AO), presents a model for the newly elected Abbott government. At the All Energy conference in Melbourne, Rae said Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt understands the importance of wind energy. Rae says the Liberal party have a legacy of supporting world-leading renewable energy policies. Rae hopes this tradition will be upheld. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: It’s not impossible to be a Liberal and support wind farms”
Crikey has conducted a survey of sitting Coalition MPs on the issue of wind energy. The news service has found just one pro-wind energy MP in the government’s ranks, Leichhardt’s Warren Entsch. Reporter Andrew Crook notes: “It seems like Entsch is to wind as Julie Bishop is to women among senior Coalition ranks.”
Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator and prominent Australian environmentalist, Cam Walker, says it’s time for the Napthine government to follow the lead of their counterparts in NSW:
Tony Abbott has wasted no time in cutting into climate change programs, including reaffirming earlier commitments to kill off the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which supports the development of renewable energy projects.
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.
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.”
At the weekend, the Australian Greens released the second tranche of its Clean Energy Roadmap. The plan addresses a critical gap in Australia’s energy policy architecture and would help drive the shift to 100 percent renewable energy.
The Clean Energy Roadmap deals with a key shortcoming of the Gillard Government’s carbon price–namely, the lack of support for enabling infrastructure.
Building new transmission lines to renewable energy hotspots does not directly reduce emissions, therefore, such projects do not benefit from the carbon price or offset markets. The critical infrastructure is also beyond the capacity of the private sector due to high capital costs and the lack of short-term profitability. The Greens call for public investment and long-term vision would open up new regions for sustainable development.
The Greens have continued their national leadership on energy policy by announcing a Clean Energy Roadmap to get Australia to 100 percent renewables. The intervention is an attempt to spark a debate about energy policy in the lead up to the looming federal election.
In an opinion article published by RenewEconomy, Greens leader Senator Christine Milne makes the case for a national roadmap. Milne cites studies by the Australian Energy Market Operator and University of New South Wales which find it economically and feasible for the national grid to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Senator Milne makes her case:
“The cheapest way to decarbonise the electricity sector is to plan the transition early and build the right energy infrastructure in the right place at the right time. To avoid wasting time and money on investments that don’t adequately address climate change, we need a roadmap.”