Just days after Infigen Energy CEO Miles George described Tony Abbott’s bid to dump the Renewable Energy Target as “economic vandalism,” another of Australia’s clean energy industry leaders has hit out at the government’s plan, warning it could result in a write-down of $10 billion in investment, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and render renewables in Australia “as good as dead.”
Lane Crockett, the executive general manager of the Australian arm of hydro and wind farm developer Pacific Hydro, told the Australia Financial Review on Wednesday that the Abbott government’s likely decision to abolish or significantly reduce the RET would have catastrophic consequences for Australia’s fledgling renewables industry – an outcome that would likely result in a barrage of compensation claims.
“What this government appears to be contemplating simply makes no sense at all. If it is truly considering putting the renewable energy industry on the chopping block, then the future of renewable energy in this country is as good as dead,” Crockett said.
“The fact that the Abbott Government would consider abolishing the renewable energy target or even closing the scheme with grandfathering arrangements represents short-sightedness beyond belief with regard to energy policy in this country.
“The sovereign risk attached to such a policy is vast and would to extend to a write-down of $10 billion in industry investment, the potential loss of around 5,000 existing and 18,000 anticipated future jobs, and an ensuing lack of confidence by international investors from all quarters.”
Crockett – who estimates that a decision to dismantle the RET would force Pacific Hydro to shelve in excess of $2.5 billion of its projects under development – called on Abbott to put his compensation package for the industry on the table, and to consider compensation for local communities and small businesses that would also take a hit.
“Our operating assets will also be at significant risk,” Crockett said, “(And) the flow on effects to our local communities in regional Victoria and South Australia would also be devastating… On the other side of the coin, such a policy would put around $8 billion into the incumbent fossil fuel companies’ pockets.”
Crockett also noted that a reduction in the RET would amount to another broken promise to the Australian people, and make a mockery of the Abbott & Co’s “open for business” catch-cry.
“It is difficult to believe that the Australian people and international onlookers could continue to have faith in a government that deliberately cuts off industry, international investment and Australian jobs at the knees.
“The renewable energy target has been a bi-partisan commitment by Australian Governments since 2001. A departure from this commitment is a broken promise indeed.”