Standing up for Renewable Energy Target

THE NSW Regional Renewables Alliance, representing farmers and rural businesses at Tuesday's Rally4Renewables in Canberra, is calling for bipartisan support for the current Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 41,000GWh by 2020. The group, which also supports a more collaborative approach to development of wind and solar projects in rural Australia, issued this media statement on Monday:

The RET has been in operation for 12 years and over that time has generated $18.5 billion in new investment, lowered electricity prices by 8% and created tens of thousands of jobs – mainly in regional and rural areas [1]. If retained in its current form, the RET will repeat this performance over its remaining 17 years of operation.

Andy Divall, Managing Director of Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage said the RET is making a massive difference to regional NSW. “In the 25 years we have been in business we haven’t seen anything like the opportunities the renewables industry will bring the region.”

Chris McIntosh, owner of Boorowa’s historic Courthouse Hotel agrees and hopes that renewable projects in the area will stimulate the local accommodation market.

Each wind turbine leaves at least $43,000 per annum in the community in which it is built, and often considerably more [2]. Paul Magee, a landholder from Boorowa, said "Every time a drought rolls around not only do we lose income, our on-farm environment suffers. Renewable energy projects are an opportunity to make us stronger and improve the environment on our farms."

(Related coverage: Collector calls for windfarm halt)

Landholders experienced with living and working around wind turbines also offered their perspective. Joan Limon a farmer from Tarago said "There are six turbines on my property. They take up very little land. The closest is 800m from my house and they don't worry me, my sheep, or my cattle."

However the group recognises that development models could be improved.  "What we need is for all parties to sit down and work out how we can make these projects assist everybody in our community", said Crookwell farmer and prospective wind farm host, Charlie Prell. "We need to ensure that wind energy developments leave a fair share of the profit in the bush.  Regional Australia has struggled to attract urban investment for 200 years, renewables are a great way for this to happen", he said.

The group will call for a commitment from both major parties to the current large-scale renewable target of 41,000 GWh by 2020. A reduction in the size or an extension of the timing of this target will render many NSW renewable energy projects unviable. "Over seventy per cent of Australians want more wind energy"[3] said Robert Dulhunty, a landholder from Glen Innes, "and along with sheep, beef and wool, I want to be able to able to supply it to them. I call for a bipartisan support for the current 2020 target which is vital for continued investment in the renewable sector." 

References

[1]Benefit of the Renewable Energy Target to Australia's Energy Markets and Economy - See more at: http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/resourcecentre/reports.html#sthash.hlQ2PtFQ.dpuf

[2]Wind Farm Investment, Employment and Carbon Abatement in Australia - See more at: http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/resourcecentre/reports.html#sthash.hlQ2PtFQ.dpuf

[3] http://essentialvision.com.au/wind-farms

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