NZ wind farm developer Meridian Energy has used the occasion of final handover of its 131MW Mt Mercer wind farm near Ballarat to champion the cause of the Renewable Energy Target, saying the success of the project shows 41,000 GWh by 2020 LRET is “clearly achievable.”
Meridian completed handover for the Victorian project on Tuesday, delivering it below budget and within the timeframe set out by the the company.
“With the cooperation of our partners, Senvion Australia and Downer, we were able to achieve full production within 24 months of signing the construction contract, without the requirement for either external project finance or a power purchase agreement,” said Meridian CEO Ben Burge.
“This demonstrates that the 41,000 GWh by 2020 LRET is clearly achievable, notwithstanding sustained opposition to the policy by the Big Three retailers.”
According to Meridian – who invested over $A250 million in the project based on the current LRET – Mt Mercer will generate enough electricity to power around 80,000 homes and will eliminate almost 500,000 tonnes per year of carbon emissions from fossil fuel generators.
It created over 250 local jobs in the Ballarat region during construction, and a further 20 permanent jobs in the ongoing operation of the wind farm.
The addition of the Mt Mercer wind farm will also enable Meridian to expand the operations of its online retail outfit, Powershop, in Australia.
“Further benefits of lower energy prices, enhanced retail competition and regional jobs can be unlocked if the Government recommits to the LRET in its existing form,” said Burge.
The comments from Meridian come in the wake of the Climate Change Authority review, which was damning of the Abbott government’s efforts on climate change.
In a report published on Monday, the CCA said the Coalition’s “spearhead” climate policy, its Emissions Reduction Fund, was unlikely to deliver even the minimum 5 per cent cuts for Australia without help from complementary mechanisms like the RET.
Today, a statement from Shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said Labor had re-established negotiations with the government in an effort to put a halt to the 70 per cent loss of investment in the sector caused by Tony Abbott walking away from the previously bipartisan RET.
“Yesterday we had the Climate Change Authority (CCA) reporting that Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the RET has gutted investment in the renewables sector,” Mr Butler said.
“Tony Abbott’s own Dick Warburton-led RET review showed that the RET is reducing carbon pollution, providing thousands of jobs, attracting billions in investment in Australia, and will lower power prices for households and business over time.
“There are many projects around Australia that are on hold due to the uncertainty the Government has created around the RET, so it’s great to see (Mt Mercer) come to fruition despite this.
“Every day the Government is intent on destroying the sector will increase the loss of billions in investment and increase the chances of household power prices rising.
“It is vital that we return certainty to the renewable energy sector, reduce our emissions, and keep power bills low for households and business,” Butler said.