In the media: Andrews government may bypass Abbott government policies on renewables

The Age
15 July 2105
Richard Willingham

Premier Daniel Andrews says his government is close to announcing plans to boost investment and jobs in the renewable energy sector by bypassing the Abbott government's policies.

Speaking on Wednesday near Ararat where a $450 million, 75-turbine wind farm is to be built, Mr Andrews increased his attacks on Prime Minister Tony Abbott's approach to wind farms.

"We are unashamedly pro-wind power," Mr Andrews said. "If you are opposed to wind energy, clean energy then you are opposed to all the thousands of jobs that come with it."

Mr Andrews said Labor was looking at "everything ranging from the way the government purchases energy, who it purchases energy from, right through to other investments opportunities, grants that we might make, partnerships we might form."

Fairfax Media this week reported the Abbott government had instructed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in any more wind projects, a decision condemned by the Victorian Labor government.

Although the government has not outlined how it can boost the sector yet, Mr Andrews indicated on Wednesday that a decision was due soon.

"We will do whatever we need to do to increase the total percentage of energy generated from clean sources but also do whatever we can to create more jobs," Mr Andrews said.

"There are ways in which can increase the total Victorian energy generation from clean or renewable sources from 12 or 13 per cent to a much higher number, of course it is easier if you have a national scheme," he said.

More than 100 megawatts of energy generated at the site will be used in Canberra, with the ACT already committed to buying the power.

Mr Andrews was adamant Victorians wanted to see more wind farms built and more than 13 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources.

Mr Andrews said he would raise the issue "in passing" at the Council of Australian Governments meeting next week.

The Greens and environmental groups have also ramped up their campaign for a state-based renewable energy target.

"With Tony Abbott continuing his ideological crusade against renewables, the state Labor government needs to step up now and lead the way," Greens spokesman Sam Hibbins said.

"The ACT's large scale feed-in tariff legislation makes the new wind farm at Ararat possible. A Victorian Renewable Energy Target would drive more projects like this in our state, and bring the benefits home to Victorians.

The Friends of the Earth Leigh Ewbank said a Victorian Renewable Energy Target would help get shovel-ready wind farms built.

"It can create thousands of jobs across the state," Mr Ewbank said.

"If you want to make Victoria Australia's renewable energy capital, then we can follow the lead of the ACT."

Shadow Minister for Renewables, David Southwick, said renewable energy should complement a mix of energy sources in Victoria.  

"Hot air from Daniel Andrews will not be enough to deliver the jobs and investment we want in the Victorian renewable energy sector," Mr Southwick said.

"The Coalition supports a stronger renewable energy sector, including wind and solar.  But using green energy as a political weapon was something Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard tried - it ended badly for both of them."



The Age