Green cuts threaten 6400 jobs

May 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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Three other wind farms under threat are located in Dr Napthine’s seat of South West Coast.

Union Fenosa’s wind farms at Ryan Corner and Hawkesdale and a smaller 40-megawatt Wind Farm Developments project at Woolsthorpe would create about 750 jobs during the construction phase, and 58 permanent positions running and servicing the wind farms.

“Reducing or removing the policy would mean fewer opportunities for construction workers and contractors, as well as all the industries that support them,’’ said Clean Energy Council policy manager Darren Gladman.

“Premier Napthine has made some positive comments about renewable energy such as wind turbines in the past, and we would love to see the Victorian government publicly recognise the economic boost that clean energy can deliver to rural areas of the state.’’

Several industry figures told The Age they believed Prime Minister Tony Abbott had signalled that he intended to cut the target of delivering 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy by 2020. His government has commissioned a review led by Dick Warburton, who has said he is sceptical about climate change science.

Mr Abbott’s key business adviser, Maurice Newman, has called for the target to be scrapped and described global warming as a ‘‘delusion’’.

Recent comments by Treasurer Joe Hockey have also heightened fears a change to the target could be imminent. Speaking with Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones last week, Mr Hockey attacked wind farms as “a blight on the landscape”.

Industry figures have told Fairfax Media any move to cut the target would result in a freeze of all new wind farm investment.

RES Australia this week confirmed its $450 million wind farm at Ararat – which is ready to build and has support from the local community and council – would not go ahead if the target was changed.

“We are concerned that the government may be considering a reduction of the [target] on a false premise it will save consumers money when, in reality, cutting [it] will demonstrably increase our energy bills in the long term,” said RES Australia development manager Daniel Leahy on Monday.

Victorian Labor energy and resources spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio accused the state government of doing nothing to assist the renewable energy industry.

‘‘The Liberals hate renewable energy, but this could be the innovative new industry Victoria needs. It could help replace the automotive and manufacturing industry that has died under Denis Napthine,’’ she said, adding that the projects were in ‘‘no danger under Labor’’.

“We would have been kicking and screaming for these jobs in Canberra months ago,’’ she said.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said Dr Napthine had backed government support for SPC Ardmona and Midfield Meat, but had done little to assist the renewable energy sector.

‘‘The Premier’s mate at Midfield Meat got $1.5 million, but the renewable energy industry gets nothing,’’ said Mr Andrews.

“This shows exactly where Denis Napthine’s priorities lie. The jobs in this industry are worth fighting for … and industry assistance shouldn’t be dependent on the company owning a racehorse with the Premier.’’

Such is the plight of the renewable energy industry, the country’s two biggest companies in the sector – Infigen Energy and Pacific Hydro – now invest more money overseas than within Australia.

The premier’s office did not comment by deadline.

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