The ACT government’s plan to have 200MW of wind energy capacity built in neighbouring areas in New South Wales – the one bright spot in Australia for large-scale renewables – has predictably run into opposition from conservative MPs, both state and federal.
The ACT Labor Government wants to source 200MW of wind power in “capacity auctions” later this year as part of its plan to source 90 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
However, as predicted by RenewEconomy last month, state and federal Coalition MPs have expressed their opposition to the plans.
The state member for Monaro, John Barilaro, the member for Burrinjuck, Katrina Hodgkinson, the member for Goulburn, Pru Goward, and the Federal member for Hume, Angus Taylor, all travelled to Canberra to say that wind farms were deeply unpopular in their communities.
“Wind farms are very divisive, in every community they’ve ever been,” Goward told reporters. “If Canberra wants wind farms, they should build them here at Red Hill. Instead of looking out of their windows at the beautiful blue Brindabellas with the snow on the mountains, [Canberrans] will look out at hideous turbines.”
Taylor said using wind turbines to achieve the renewable energy targets was ‘‘flawed policy’’ and that the ACT was causing angst for its neighbours while ensuring more expensive electricity for Canberra, for potentially no net reduction in national carbon emissions.
‘‘We have to pursue the best ways of reducing carbon emissions and … the simple numbers tell us that what is being proposed by the ACT government is three times more expensive than alternatives for generating electricity, and 10 times more expensive than alternatives for reducing carbon emissions,’’ he said.
(Taylor did not seem aware that the ACT’s 2020 plan envisages a fall in electricity prices from its plan to introduce renewables and energy efficiency measures, and that it will “retire” the renewable energy certificates, meaning that they will be additional to the national target. His figures on costs are also way off).
The protest came as wind developers complained about recent changes to NSW legislation that would allow community members to oppose nine previously approved wind farms across the state’s southern tablelands, central region and south-east.
Senior development manager at CWP Renewables, Adrian Maddocks, told the ABC that it was a step backwards for the industry.
“What it means now is you could get consent but then we’d have to wait to see if someone was going to appeal the project, which could add 12-18 months to the timeframe, and significant costs as we went through an appeal process.”
The NSW Coalition government announced its commitment to repealing part 3A in 2011, but developers said the final deadline for projects lodged under the former Labor administration to complete environmental assessments hadn’t been set.
CWP Renewables is involved in the development of three of the nine wind projects which will be affected by the decision. It is currently working on the Crudine Ridge, Uungula and Bango wind farms, all in central NSW.
Other wind farm developers say that the move will make it almost impossible to develop new wind projects in the state, because of the uncertainty and the added costs from the new legislation.