Victorian wind turbine tower manufacturer Keppel Prince Engineering has won its bid to have the import of cheap foreign-made towers investigated by the federal government.
The Australian Anti-dumping Commission has announced it will investigate claims that companies in China and Korea are selling towers to Australia below the cost of production – and sometimes below the retail prices in their own countries.
Keppel Prince – Australia’s largest wind tower manufacturer – is undertaking the claim from Tasmanian-based tower maker, Hayward, and is calling for the federal government to enforce a 44 per cent tariff on overseas turbines.
The company’s general manager, Steve Garner, said the news was a huge forward step, after more than 12 months of campaigning against cheap imports that had seen Australian wind tower makers miss out on contracts, putting jobs at risk.
“For us it’s a major step because it sends a message to the world that customs has recognised the damage that has been done,” Garner said. “If this situation is allowed to continue it will destroy hundreds of manufacturing jobs in the Australian clean energy sector, and many more indirect jobs.”
The move comes almost one year after one-time industry leader, RPG Australia, went into voluntary administration. One of Australia’s largest heavy engineering companies – and tower supplier for SA’s Snowtown wind farm – the Adelaide-based company appointed administrators in October last year, closed plants in Queensland and South Australia and stood down more than 150 staff.
Keppel Prince won’t to know until the end of January next year if tariffs will be placed on imported towers, but Garner told The Standard that he expects news of the investigation to have an immediate effect “on the thinking” of developers.
Keppel Prince, which supplied the wind towers for the Waubra wind farm, currently has a contact for 51 towers at the Taralga wind farm, thanks to recently announced funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which helped to make up for the price difference between local and imported towers.
The Standard reports that the move saved about 70 jobs at the Portland factory.