“If I can be a little indulgent, I drive to Canberra to go to parliament and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive.” – Joe Hockey
So uttered the federal Treasurer a few months ago, in a frank and open – and now widely quoted – radio interview with Alan Jones on 2GB.
Obviously, Hockey’s comments about Infigen Energy’s Capital wind farm (pictured) were not well received by Australia’s renewable energy industry, but in a recent submission to the federal government-appointed panel in charge of reviewing the Renewable Energy Target, one company has pointed out why they were particularly inappropriate, coming from Joe.
Epuron – a renewable energy developer and owner-operator (wind in NSW, solar in NT) based in the North Sydney electorate Joe Hockey represents – has described such “personal statements” as those made by the Treasurer as not only “inappropriate from the bearer of such office,” but also as reflective of the low standing renewables have with the government, and as a further undermining of investor confidence.
Quoting energy minister Ian Macfarlane’s pledge from one year ago that his government would “give industry policy certainty and stability” and would not put investment, jobs and economic growth at risk, Epuron has noted that Hockey’s comments are particularly concerning for companies in his own electorate, which had, alone, invested $3.5 billion under the RET, with the potential for a further $6.6 billion to come.
“Investors have been attracted by Australia’s stable investment climate and are now concerned by a number of issues,” said the company, listing these as the scope of the RET Review Panel’s work, and personal statements by senior federal politicians that undermined confidence in the renewable energy sector’s outlook.
“Joe Hockey would take down the wind farm that offends him but he is in a small minority. In a beauty contest of power generation wind energy would win hands down. Regardless, and fortunately, beauty is not a consideration in planning for or investing in power generation. Companies in the North Sydney electorate which Joe Hockey represents have invested $3.5 billion under the RET and there is the potential for a further $6.6 billion of investment – solely from companies in Joe Hockey’s electorate.”
Epuron’s submission also stressed that RET was working, providing much-needed certainty, and should be allowed to continue doing this job.
“Given the ongoing relevance and widespread popularity of the key objectives of the RET we respectfully recommend that nothing in the Renewable Energy Target legislation be changed as this is the fastest way to extinguish fears of regulatory risk and settle down the investment community, enabling the objectives of the Act to continue to be met,” the submission – co-signed by Epuron’s executive directors, Martin Poole and Andrew Durran.
“Not changing the RET will ensure billions of dollars of investment and create thousands of jobs across Australia and provide the most cost-effective clean energy for Australian electricity consumers, most of whom support the RET.
“Not changing the RET will continue to ensure downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices. The RET also mitigates the impact of increasing gas prices in eastern Australia when CSG export starts in 2015.”