17.1 C
Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

ACT ready to take on wind-power sceptics

Latest News

Save Broken Head

Jan Barham, Broken Head Broken Head is precious but fragile. Again, it’s under threat and it’s urgent to act now....

Other News

Any questions?

‘This is a great chance for foodies to ask me anything they want’, says local chef Darren Robertson, who...

Father and son win first sailing race

Sixteen boats competed in the Tweed Valley Sailing Club’s race day earlier this month in a 10-12 knot breeze...

Cartoon of the week – 12 May, 2021

Letters to the editor We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters...

Man dead after boat capsizes near Yamba

Police say a man has died and a second has been taken to hospital after a boat capsized south of Yamba this morning.

Interview with Mell and Zara from the Byron Comedy Fest

After a year under a COVID-19 hiatus, The Byron Comedy Fest is back! Next Thursday sees this fledgling event open the doors to its second weekend presenting all that is fabulous and funny. Set on the Byron beachfront at the Byron Surf Club and styled as a classy bespoke beachside speakeasy, this event is the creative lovechild of besties Zara Noruzi and Mell Coppin.

Join Clarkes Beach paddle out this weekend to stop massive oil and gas field project

Hundreds of local surfers and water-lovers will paddle out at Clarke’s Beach over the weekend to protest against a massive oil and gas field proposed for the NSW coast.

Wind farms, a clean renewable energy source. Photo imotov/Flickr
Wind farms, a clean renewable energy source. Photo imotov/Flickr

Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy

ACT energy minister Simon Corbell knows he should have no problem attracting many competitive bids for his government’s ‘reverse auction’ of wind energy capacity later this year.

Numerous wind farm developments in the regions surrounding the ACT have been waiting for the opportunity to proceed with their projects.

The one big element that has been lacking has been policy certainty, and therefore the lack of power purchase agreements and bank finance.

The ACT, by offering a fixed 20-year tariff for 200MW of wind capacity bid at the lowest price, provides that certainty.

As RenewEconomy noted in our recent report, developers are so desperate for contracts that bidding is likely to be better than previously thought.

The federal government, and its effective freeze on renewable investment, has done the ACT and its consumers a favour.

‘We are in a buyers’ market,’ Corbell told RenewEconomy in an interview.

What is less clear, however, is how the ACT will deal with the vocal and influential ‘antis’ in the surrounding districts where the wind farms will be built.

The anti-wind position of many conservatives – along with pressure from state owned and private utilities to protect revenues – has been one of the key elements behind the government’s refusal to provide clarity on renewable energy.

Canberra’s surrounding regions are represented by the likes of federal MPs Angus Taylor (Hume) and Peter Hendy (Eden-Monaro) and state MLAs Katrina Hodginson and John Barilaro (Monaro) – all members of the Coalition and all who have either campaigned openly against wind farms, or do not support any new projects.

Some of its most prominent ‘anti’ residents include Tony Abbott’s business adviser, Maurice Newman, and Tony Hodgson.

‘There is no doubt that this is a sensitive issue,’ Corbell told RenewEconomy.

‘There are also some vocal and high profile opponents. But there are not just antis. I think there is a lot of support in those communities and the polls tells us that. But that doesn’t mean everyone supports wind farms.’

Corbell says he has written to all 16  mayors of neighbouring local government districts and would be willing to meet anyone to explain the policy framework, and why the ACT was investing in wind, and how it could reduce emissions, although he said it was not his place to justify or otherwise planning consents and other issues which were the province of the NSW government.

Corbell says the abatement achieved by the ACT through its 90 per cent renewables program will be additional to the national target, because the ACT proposes to ‘retire’ the renewable energy certificates.

As for the health impacts: ‘I will simply say, again and again, what the respected, peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us; which is that there are no health impacts with wind farm operations.

‘But that does not diminish the importance of a social licence to operate.’

The ability of project developers to engage with the community will be an important part of the criteria for the auction outcome, which will not be set on price alone. Around 20 per cent will be judged on community engagement and

Local development is also a key criteria. It was perhaps not a coincidence that Windlab announced on the same day the establishment of a wind institute in Canberra that will develop wind engineering expertise and a database.

One conservative voice very much in favour of the ACT initiative is the NSW parliamentary secretary for renewable energy Rob Stokes, who described the move as ‘bold and innovative’.

‘From a NSW government perspective, we acknowledge that this provides some wonderful opportunities for jobs and investment in regional parts of NSW that could really do with those opportunities,’ Stokes said in Canberra.

Although The Canberra Times also quoted him as saying: ‘We have learned that an ill-advised project can actually do damage to the industry more broadly.’

Stokes was in Canberra for a meeting with pp to 100 delegates at the South East Region of Renewable Energy Forum, which aims to drive cross-jurisdictional cooperation and investment throughout the south east NSW-ACT region.

‘The region’s abundance of renewable energy resources and the forward vision of local industry stakeholders is driving investment and vital employment opportunities,’ Stokes said.

‘NSW supports a diverse, efficient and affordable energy mix through a planning process that listens to and reflects the wishes of local communities.’

Still, Upper Lachlan Shire mayor John Shaw told The Canberra Times that the wind farms proliferating in his region were dividing the community. And judging by the feedback to that article, the resistance will be vocal.

The ACT has re-assessed the amount of renewable energy it will need to meet its 90 per cent target by 2020.

It is now at 490MW – down from an original estimate of around 600MW – and will include around 380MW of wind energy, about 90MW of solar (including the recently announced solar park), and around 20MW of waste to energy.

‘Wind does the heavy lifting,’ Corbell said.’“Solar and waste to energy make up the balance.’

Corbell says the entire initiative will add a maximum of $4 to household bills per week. But he says this is a conservative estimate and likely to come in well below that, particularly with some competitive pricing in the upcoming wind auction.

Also, an energy efficiency initiative launched by the ACT is designed to reduce household bills by at least $4 a week, meaning that the carbon reduction and clean energy initiative will be cost neutral to households, or could even provide a benefit.

Corbell is not so certain that the next meeting of state and federal ministers will be as cordial. Corbell says there has not been a sufficient focus on renewable energy policies, what can be achieved on the ground, and the benefits in past meetings.

‘The forum tends to focus on so-called negative aspect of renewables, and the need for more fossil fuel generation,’ he said.

‘I’m hopeful that at the next meeting, I will be able to provide an update of what is happening in the ACT – the focus on the achievability and the costs of the initiative. And to highlight the uncertainty that exists at the federal level. What the ministers make of that is up to them.’

Note: It was interesting to see that the ACT announcement received little or no interest from the mainstream media, apart from The Canberra Times and the ABC. Is it that the size of the investment (probably north of $400 million) is not significant, or it’s just not the ‘preferred’ industry. Go figure.

Sign

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Im ok with it as long as canberra builds lets say ten ,195m tall turbines in and around the act .. I know the argument that believes there isn’t enough wind , regardless of that to show its good for the goose. .

  2. Brendon

    It is not the lack of wind that has excluded the ACT, it is a 2008 ACT government environment policy on not interrupting the skyline (Hill ridges and buffer areas Territory Plan Part B12). See AECOM Feb 14 report

    Apparently the environmental concerns of the ACT Environment Minister stop at the boarder- this is simply pissing in our neighbours back yards. So much for the ACT acting equitably

    What this is really about is blocking development sites in the area surrounding the ACT – so the ACT governments developments can thrive and they can collect development taxes.
    this hancerf

  3. As far as I’m concerned the ACT has just declared ‘war’ on the rural citizens of NSW. It’s so typical of Canberra to think the rest of Australia is just there for its comfort and convenience. They will never build them in the ACT, Imagine the fuss — forget about the wind resource excuse — I lived in Canberra when they built black mountain tower and the place nearly imploded. Of course, where does the money come from? Probably the salaries of our publicly funded public servants who already enjoy a city with unbelievably good facilities. The deal must also provide they pay all the structural costs and must provide that the 80,000 homes powered by these windmills rely on no other source of power, these people apparently only like intermittent flashes of connection to the rest of Australia so why not extend it to power supply? Bring on the ‘war’, I and thousands of others are sick to death of this mindless, ignorant and expensive ‘conscience solving’ fantasy of saving the planet with windmills.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Editorial: The vulnerable at risk

Most of us would hope that the taxes we pay go towards key areas such as health, education and to supporting the most vulnerable in our community.

Developers push swamp boundaries – will council push back?

It has once again been left to residents to raise serious issues in relation to a development application (DA) that is pushing to overdevelop at 6 Keats Street, Byron Bay at the expense of the environment, in particular the Cumbebin Swamp.

Flickerfest tour returns to the Northern Rivers

Celebrating 30 years in 2021 Flickerfest is bringing its National Tour to The Regent Cinema Murwillumbah for one big film packed this weekend

Water and the dam

Dr Roslyn Irwin, Caniaba An organisation called ‘Our Future NR’ is distributing and promoting information intended to put the Dunoon Dam, which was excluded from...