(Politics in the Pub has kindly provided a link to YouTube of the evening, above: 1hr 40m)
IS there any benefit to Australia being a late adopter of renewable technologies? "Yes," says Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham, "but not if we wait forever."
Monday night's 'Politics in the Pub' focused on fossil fuels and energy alternatives.
Speakers included Mr Buckingham, The Goulburn Group president Urs Walterlin, Goulburn MP Pru Goward, Australian Wind Alliance member Dimity Taylor, and Community Energy 4 Goulburn (CE4G) spokesman Peter Fraser.
Mr Buckingham said "catastrophic" NSW Coalition decisions, slowing renewable energies, meant the state lagged "behind the nation and the world".
Fossil fuel revenues, which were "less ... than parking fines", were better invested in renewable energy research and development, he said.
"In 20 years people won't believe we voted for people who didn't believe in, invest in," renewable energies, Mr Buckingham said.
Ms Goward was unswayed, saying renewables couldn't be progressed "overnight ... without destroying jobs of coal miners [and] jobs that spin off that".
NSW was a "leader in household solar" with a "fourfold increase in renewables since we've been in government," she said. "We've invested enormously."
Closer to home, she had "hundreds of constituents worried about the value of their land" because wind turbines had been constructed in communities.
"We need an industry that is properly respectful of what happens to people when you build [wind turbines] on their ridge line," Ms Goward said.
In the latter sentiment she found agreement from Ms Taylor of the Australian Wind Alliance, who called for better "communication and consultation".
"It makes sense to work with communities rather than battle them through the courts all the way," said Ms Taylor, in favour of the turbines near her home.
Community Energy 4 Goulburn (CE4G) spokesman Peter Fraser gave a good account of how government and business could collaborate on renewables.
The local association was set up to spearhead renewable energy projects, starting with a 1MW solar farm in Goulburn that could power up to 1000 homes.
Door knocking and community forums had drawn "an overwhelmingly positive response" resulting in project start-up funds, and energy retailers were already "looking to partner with us; we've got a number of avenues for selling the power," with an estimated return of five to eight per cent on investment, he said.
An audience member rose to ask what could be done to help small communities like Bungonia with renewable energy developments and access.
Mr Fraser said CE4G would help where they could, and spoke of "whole towns" in the US and Europe that had successfully "gone off-grid".
Mr Walterlin said even a small town like Bungonia could become "energy independent".
"Just take the first step; you might be surprised how many will walk with you," he said.
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