Time to end Victoria’s double standards on energy

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 3.13.54 PMFriends 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.

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Double standards: The Anglesea coal mine and power plant operates close to homes. Wind turbines in Victoria must have a setback of 2km.

Surf Coast resident, Andrew Laird, takes issue with the double standards surrounding energy generators in Victoria. Laird penned the following letter published by The Geelong Advertiser: Continue reading “Time to end Victoria’s double standards on energy”

Macedon residents fired up about Baillieu’s brown tape

r0_193_3264_2037_w1200_h678_fmaxFriends of the Earth’s recent report on the costs of Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws has put renewable energy on the state election agenda.

The Age featured exclusive coverage of the research report. The Macedon Ranges Guardian, a prominent newspaper in the battleground seat of Macedon, reported on the local impacts of the Coalition government’s anti-wind farm laws.

In addition to scuttling two utility-scale projects in the Macedon region, it’s well known that the government’s arbitrary blanket ban prevented a community wind farm from going ahead in Woodend.

The Macedon Ranges Guardian published the following letter by Macedon resident Marie Lakey, who takes issue with Liberal candidate Donna Petrovich’s support for Baillieu’s brown tape:  Continue reading “Macedon residents fired up about Baillieu’s brown tape”

Wind energy on the Vic election agenda in Macedon

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 3.13.54 PMFriends of the Earth’s recent report on the costs of Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws has put renewable energy on the state election agenda.

The Age featured exclusive coverage of the research report. The Macedon Ranges Guardian, a prominent newspaper in the battleground seat of Macedon, reported on the local impacts of the Coalition government’s anti-wind farm laws.

In addition to scuttling two utility-scale projects in the Macedon region, it’s well known that the government’s arbitrary blanket ban prevented a community wind farm from going ahead in Woodend.

“The State Government’s anti-wind farm laws prohibited our project without any consultation or justification,” said Barry Mann of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group —the organisation behind the community wind farm proposal. “We’d love to follow in the footsteps of Hepburn Wind and build a community wind farm in Woodend.”

The Friends of the Earth research prompted responses from the major party candidates.  Continue reading “Wind energy on the Vic election agenda in Macedon”

IPCC Report: Act now on climate, build renewables

WGIII_AR5_Cover_webThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has today released its report on climate change mitigation – how to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It follows hard on the heels an earlier report on the impacts from climate change which pointed to devastating effects on the poor and wildlife. This new mitigation report outlines what must be done if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. It represents a wake up call to the Australian governments, whose love affair with dirty fossil fuels is leading to disaster.

Here are five hard facts from the report:

  • Time to say good-bye to dirty fossil fuels – fossil fuel use is the number one problem, responsible for more than three-quarters of total greenhouse gas emissions. We are on the path to around 3.5 degrees to 6 degrees of warming by 2100. Keeping global warming below two degrees will require a rapid reduction in use of fossil fuels, for example, a reduction in carbon dioxide of 90 per cent or more from the energy supply system between 2040 and 2070.
  • Wealthy countries need to shoulder burden of costs – wealthy countries need to transfer significant money to developing countries each year in order to help them to develop using clean low-carbon technology rather than dirty fossil fuels. Without this financial transfer poorer countries will have no choice but to use cheaper dirty fossil fuels such as coal in order to meet their population’s legitimate aspiration for higher living standards.
  • Much more should be spent on energy efficiency and low carbon energy needs – spending on energy efficiency and low carbon technology needs to be very significantly increased and spending on fossil fuels needs to decrease substantially.
  • Bioenergy has a limited role, but not done badly – bioenergy has a limited role in delivering low carbon energy but if not well regulated bioenergy deployment could increase emissions, and compromise livelihoods, food-security, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biomass for energy, including improved cookstoves, and small scale biogas and biopower production, could reduce GHG emissions and improve livelihoods and health.
  • It is still possible to avoid dangerous climate change – remarkably given the increasing use of fossil fuels and emissions over recent decades we still have a chance of avoiding global warming of two degrees. A pathway to give a high chance of avoiding two-degrees would require rapid action in cutting emissions, plus the development of technology and approaches to remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere, plus behavioural change (for example, shifting to healthier diets).

If Australian politicians are serious about protecting us from the impacts of climate change they will heed the IPCC’s warnings and take action. Continue reading “IPCC Report: Act now on climate, build renewables”

New report: Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws cost Victoria jobs and rob regions of investment

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Click here for the report.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) have released a new report detailing the economic and environmental costs of Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws to Victoria.

The analysis shows that anti-wind farm laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu has hit the wind energy sector hard, costing jobs and investment opportunities for regional Victoria.

The findings of the report – The Biggest Losers

  1. Jobs and regional economies – an estimated loss of 490 construction and 64 ongoing jobs (for the life of the wind farm), as well as the numerous flow-on effects lost to these vacancies (an estimated $10.5m worth of economic activity to rural economies).
    Projects worth over $864million in the past three years alone have either been lost or scrapped due to these laws.
  2. Climate change action – 438MW of wind energy generation capacity scrapped or stalled thanks to the TB laws, designating a loss in state greenhouse gas emissions of around 1.38 million tonnes per annum – enough to power almost a quarter of a million homes.
  3. Regional communities – regional communities have been denied access to the funding set aside by wind farm operations, a figure totalling $806,840 each (or $20.1m over a 25-year period).
  4. Wind farmers – farmers robbed of over $2.1m worth of drought-proof income each year (or $54.2million over a 25 year period).
  5. Local councils – local councils in regional municipalities have been robbed of over $516, 937 (or $12.9m over a 25-year period) in rates from operating wind farms.

The report findings raise fresh questions about the government’s wind farm laws as the state heads to the polls for a November election.

Voters will be paying close attention to where the parties stand on renewable energy. All available polling shows Victorians want more wind farms. The government’s anti-wind farm laws are an electoral liability.

The Labor party has already pledged to ‘rip up’ the Baillieu anti-wind laws. Will Premier Napthine act to restore fair laws for wind farms before it’s too late? Continue reading “New report: Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws cost Victoria jobs and rob regions of investment”

Pollie Watch: Victoria’s new energy minister at the crossroads

Last week, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine injected new blood into his frontbench in preparation for the state election this November, promoting member for Morwell Russell Northe as Minister for Energy and Resources.

Victoria’s new Minister for Energy, Russell Northe

Northe steps into the role at a time of great uncertainty surrounding  the energy sector. The Abbott government’s stacked RET Review clouds the prospects for renewable energy in the country and compounds the impact of  Victoria’s anti-wind farm laws. The rooftop solar boom continues to disrupt the business model of the big fossil-fuel-based energy companies and the last scrap of coal power’s social licence went up in the recent fire at the Hazelwood coalmine.

The context of energy policy (and politics) is well known. Yet Victoria’s new energy minister is Russell Northe is somewhat of an unknown quantity. Yes 2 Renewables had a look over Northe’s record to get a better sense of the man. Here’s what we found. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Victoria’s new energy minister at the crossroads”

Another NSW wind farm approved as Victoria lags behind

r3_3_1198_678_w1200_h678_fmaxThe NSW Planning Assessment Commission has approved the 42 turbine Flyers Creek wind farm.

“The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) OK’d all but one of the 150-metre tall wind turbines proposed on 26 properties 20 kilometres south of Orange,” report the Central Western Daily.

According to Infigen Energy, the $195 million project  “generate more than enough electricity to power all of the homes in Orange, Bathurst and the Blayney Shire.”

Infigen senior development manager Jonathan Upson said the “community wind farm project” began when two farmers approached the company about establishing a wind farm on their properties more than five years ago.

Meanwhile, it has been years since a project of this size has been approved in Victoria. A mere 24 turbines have been approved under the Coalition government since Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws took effect.  Continue reading “Another NSW wind farm approved as Victoria lags behind”

South Australia gets wind energy jobs as Victoria faces jobs crises

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 10.24.57 AMAustralia’s largest wind farm project has been given the go ahead by the South Australian government just days after Toyota announced its decision to end manufacturing in Victoria.

Victoria now faces a jobs crisis. Jobs created in the wind energy sector would have softened the blow of the declining manufacturing sector. Yet anti-wind farm laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu has prevented new projects in the state.

South Australia’s wind energy sector has been the main beneficiary from Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws which took effect in 2011. It’s creating jobs while cutting pollution.

Continue reading “South Australia gets wind energy jobs as Victoria faces jobs crises”

Community support for wind/solar emerges from heatwave

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 9.02.38 AMYes 2 Renewables spotted this gem of a letter to the editor in the Melton & Moorabool Weekly. We liked it so much we thought we’d share it with you. Here’s David Bonnici’s ‘My Shout: Heat is on the Government’

I heard Premier Denis Napthine tell ABC Radio last week we face rolling blackouts and should each do our bit to save electricity during the heatwave.

His comments almost made me throw the radio through a wall – no mean feat when you’re driving.

The sun and wind are increasing our demand for the power that our brown-coal-fired power stations can’t meet when they could be a major part of the solution.

Yet our state government has all but banned new wind farms and removed many of the incentives for people to install solar panels and deliver surplus energy to the electricity grid.

Of course, the government will feel pressure to meet increasing demands as heatwaves get longer and hotter.

Ironically, it will most probably want to do this by building another dirty coal-fired power station.

People are putting two and two together. Climate change means more extreme weather events. And the best way to avoid worse heatwaves in the future is with more renewable energy. Premier Napthine and the Coalition government will be under pressure to scrap their anti-wind farm laws and adopt a support for renewables in 2014–a state election year.  Continue reading “Community support for wind/solar emerges from heatwave”

Victoria locks the gate on fracking, now to open it to renewables

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Yes 2 Renewables welcomes the Napthine government’s extension to the moratorium on fracking. The measure is a good first step toward a total ban that will protect farming communities, agricultural land and our environment.

Now that the Napthine government is making energy policy in the interest of the community, it can take another look at its anti-wind farm laws.

Planning amendments made by Premier Baillieu and endorsed by Dr Napthine ban wind farms in the windiest parts of the state.

It makes sense to ban polluting energy sources such as unconventional gas. What doesn’t make sense are laws that prevent clean renewable energy sources from coming online. Continue reading “Victoria locks the gate on fracking, now to open it to renewables”