ACT energy minister slams Hockey’s “offensive” wind comments

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ACT energy minister Simon Corbell “ashamed” of federal government’s renewable policies, and mocks Joe Hockey’s wind farm comments.

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Simon Corbell, the ACT minister leading its ambitious goal of reaching 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020, has slammed Treasurer Joe Hockey’s dismissal of wind turbines, and says he is “ashamed” of the federal government’s policy position on renewables.

Corbell says he was shocked by Hockey’s comments last week that the wind turbines at the Capital wind farm near Lake George, north of Canberra were “utterly offensive” and a “blight on the landscape.”

The ACT government wants to build 200MW of wind farms in the next few years to help meet its renewable goals, and expects some of these could be built in the region, including a possible extension to the Capital wind farm that Hockey finds offensive.

“It is deeply concerning that federal policy settings could be driven by Joe Hockey’s view of aesthetics as he drives down the Federal Highway,” Corbell told RenewEconomy in an interview on the sidelines of the Australian Solar Council conference in Melbourne.

“Wind farms in the ACT and the region deliver jobs, certainty and support for the agricultural sector, and they are making our city and our region a centre for renewable energy excellence.”

Simon CorbellHowever, Corbell says the federal Coalition’s policy on renewables, and its threats to remove or reduce the renewable nervy targets, and dismantle other institutions such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and defund the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

“I’m ashamed from what we hearing from our federal leaders,” Corbell said. “Our federal leaders are locking us in to long-term price increases driven by vulnerability to the pricing of fossil fuels, whether that be coal or gas, and they should be taking a long-term view of the need to provide greater price certainty and lower cost energy by supporting the long-term development of renewable with a stable policy.

“Really, if the coalition says the country is open for business, it should be open for renewable energy as well.”

Corbell held a briefing for around 50 wind energy developers in the ACT this week, saying that there was a strong response to the territory’s auction process, which will see bidding for contracts for 200MW of wind energy, and he was very confident of obtaining a competitive price.

However, he warned that the poor policy signals sent from the federal government could have an impact, as it could mean that large international developers would choose to focus their efforts on other countries.

“The longer term risk of the winding back of policy such as the RET (renewable energy target) could reduce the number of market participants, and make it more difficult for them to get finance,” Corbell said.

“Larger renewable energy companies will ask themselves ‘why are they in this market” … and that could make it harder for their Australian subsidiaries to secure finance for an Australian project.”

Corbell said the ACT is now the only state or territory in the country to have greenhouse gas reductions written into law. Its target is to cut emissions by 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, much of this through building efficiency and renewable energy.

“Switching to renewable energy is one of the most cost-effective and quickest ways to achieve emissions reduction,” he said.

“You can decarbonise a city like Canberra and do it a relatively low cost. If we can do it, other cities can do it too.”



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  1. Tomagain 5 years ago

    Corbell is a champion.

    • JimboZ181 5 years ago

      Corbell for PM!

  2. Joel Little 5 years ago

    Great to hear one that there are political leaders still leading. Keep it up – I hope it flows through to other states and territories

  3. Robert Johnston 5 years ago

    To paraphrase one Giles Parkinson in an earlier panel discussion with Minister Corbell – “You appear to be the only sane energy minister in the country…” – its refreshing to hear such lucid comments from a Minister in a relatively minor region – its hard to imagine this guy will not be picked up by Federal Labor for a bigger role.

  4. juxx0r 5 years ago

    What a despicable little man is Joe Hockey. He chooses to be offended and blames others for his poor choice.

    • MrMauricio 5 years ago

      Despicable fat oaf!

    • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

      Badging is all the Liberals know how to do. Intellect has never been their strong point.

  5. Gongite 5 years ago

    Simon Corbell and the ACT government are a beacon of sanity in this crazy country. It just goes to show how captured most other state and federal leaders are. SA is still doing well too, even if their renewable efforts are not legislate as the ACT’s are

  6. Daniel Wright MacDonald 5 years ago

    Hi everyone, great comments – make sure they are heard by making a submission to the Renewable Energy Target review at

  7. Name 5 years ago

    ‘A blight on the landscape’ – from that road by Lake George – the white lines on the road must be more offensive to Joe – they are visually several times wider than the towers on the other side of the lake several kilometres away – perhaps all white lines on the road should be removed to reduce their ‘blighting’ effect. That could be some big budget saving.
    As for RET it would seem that renewables have a substantial economic benefit to all electricity users by lowering the price of wholesale electricity – through the changed bidding behaviours in the market and reduced summer peak power costs. If RET costs $8/MWh for RECs, bidding behaviours save about $10/MWh and reduced summer peaks save about $6/MWh – a net saving of $8/MWh to all electricity users worth about $1.5 billion a year. So why is the Treasurer so ashamed of RET – it is saving his economy money not costing a cent and making lots of sense!
    David Rossiter

    • Billy Bangle 5 years ago

      If renewable energy really saved money, it would be cheaper anyway, and there’d be no need for the RET.
      Wind energy is unreliable, Germany & Denmark now have to pay to give it away. Both have an electricity price more than double that in France.

      • Name 5 years ago

        Dear Billy Bangle
        RET does save money but the costs and benefits of RET do not line up into the same pockets. Renewable energy power plant owners need RECs to repay their capital costs but the benefits from RET do not flow to the renewable energy generators they flow to all electricity users not producers by reducing the price of electricity by about twice the REC cost. Hence RET is still required to fund the generators.
        The same thing happens on transport projects the costs of a new transport system are to the owner (often Government) but the benefits flow to the users of the transport system in saved journey times. The benefit/cost ratio for good transport infrastructure should exceed one – the same applies to RET but different pockets provide the costs from those that receive the benefits. RET must therefore stay.
        As for the EU experience with wind it is not unreliable and neither Germany or Denmark pay to give it away to adjoining countries. Wind is only one of many types of renewable energy we use in Australia. We have not only wind but an enormous diversity of hydro (run of river and storage), solar pv, bagasse, wood, wood waste, black liquor, sewage gas, landfill gas, piggery waste, solar thermal, macadamia nut shells, solar water heaters, etc, etc. We have so much choice – the lucky country.
        As for France they use nuclear and have yet to decommission a plant. What are the decommissioning costs the UK has wrestled with this for years as have others. Do you think we could build a nuclear power plant in Australia politically?

        • Ronald Brakels 5 years ago

          Good explanation, Name. Hope it has some effect.

        • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

          In other words if you took RET away, the up front capital investment required for new Wind and Solar farms would unlikely be forthcoming because the sale of power into the wholesale grid alone would be risky (despite near zero marginal costs).

          Remember we have decreasing total demand since 2009/10 according to the regulator of the largest wholesale power market in Australia, the AEMO. We also have a fair bit of rooftop solarPV mitigating against was was a rapidly escalating peak demand capacity problem for networks (and profit maker for FF generators). In that climate utility scale renewables need up front, long term power purchasing agreements with retailers, the vast majority of whom own coal and gas assets as vertically integrated providers of energy.

          • David Rossiter 5 years ago

            I like your words nicely put.
            And as another point RET operated until about 2010 so far as I can see as a net cost to the electricity market but from then on the additional benefits to the market have got greater more than totally ameliorating the cost of RET. I think the benefit cost ratio is now around 2 and heading upwards. Too late to reduce RET – it needs to be increased to 30% by 2030 to reap more economic benefits with time. Especially as direct action plan is unproven and may abate very little emissions (probably 15%) compared with its sales literature/rhetoric and the 2020 national target of 5% emissions reduction is at stake too.

          • wideEyedPupil 5 years ago

            30% by 2030 is too slow. According to Potsdam Institute Australia needed to get to negative net emissions by 2020 to do it’s fair share share of staying under 2ºC and returning to 310 ppm CO2-e. Methane bombs in the thawing Arctic sea-bed and tundra are a massive blind spot for IPCC. One glaciologist recently said “were f’d if that lot has started going to the atmosphere” as it appears to be.

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