Renewables: 'Recapture democracy; drive economy'

Farmers and rural towns should accept that the decentralisation of energy generation will drive the local economy, says renewables host Charlie Prell.

Mr Prell met with Labor's Minister for Innovation, Senator Deborah O'Neill, and Hume Labor candidate, Aiofe Champion, last Thursday.

Lobbying for climate change: Charlie Prell, Senator Deborah O'Neill and Aiofe Champion at Crookwell Wind Farm viewing platform. Photo: Clare McCabe.

Lobbying for climate change: Charlie Prell, Senator Deborah O'Neill and Aiofe Champion at Crookwell Wind Farm viewing platform. Photo: Clare McCabe.

"We the people need to recapture democracy," he said, telling the pair that while renewable infrastructure impacted rural areas, royalties were paid to the community, not the State Government.

He is able to employ additional staff and make improvements to his farm. These developments can stabilise an economy, he said. Mr Prell hosts Crookwell 2 Wind Farm and is a public advocate for the benefits of wind farms.

Senator O'Neill said the debate over renewables had been "allowed to be led from the top end of town"; but voters had a choice between more of the same, or accepting science, she added.

Labor was committed to reducing Australia's pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050, and to 50 per cent renewable energy in the electricity mix by 2030, Senator O'Neill said. Over the next two decades under a Labor government, the expected closures of coal-fired power stations could see up to 8500 jobs lost, but "we understand business survival is vital for jobs and understand the notion of transition," she said.

Labor will establish an independent body to transition the workforce and tailor packages to balance the changes to the economy of impacted areas. "Labor is looking to a green future and taking care of workers," Ms Champion said.

A Labor government will offer 100,000 households a $2000 rebate to install battery storage. On a larger scale, Australia has significant stores of Lithium, a component of batteries, which could potentially be used to build the storage of the future, Ms Champion said.

The Liberal party has a 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction target below 2005 levels by 2030. "We reached 2010, we will beat 2020 easily, we will get to 2030 and we will deal with the next time period," Minister for Energy and Hume incumbent Angus Taylor said. "We will meet our international obligations we have laid out to the last tonne and how we are going to do it ... We aren't going to kill industries to do it."

"What we aren't going to do is go way beyond that for nor purpose and no cost to everyday Australians raising the price of everything they buy."

An investment of underwriting new generators, including an upgrade to a coal power station, would ensure demand was met; and supply (the Retailer Reliability Obligation) and powers of the consumer watchdog (the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) would ensure lower prices of energy into the National Electricity Market, he said.

Mr Taylor said wholesale prices will fall below 7 cents per kilowatt/hour. "We will keep bringing new supply and underwriting supply until we reach that price."

Further renewable developments in Hume were not disclosed, however, Mr Taylor said the Snowy 2.0 project will balance the investments in the production of energy. The expansion of the Snowy Mountains Scheme will alleviate intermittent supply in the demand of generation, and the $1.38 billion investment is cheaper than an investment into battery storage, Mr Taylor said.

The national director of the Australian Wind Alliance, Andrew Bray said, "the Coalitions reduction target is hopelessly inadequate, the Climate Change Authority has recommended cuts from 46-64 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The ALP target is clearly more appropriate than the coalition target but still at the lower range of what Australia needs to be achieving."

"Developed economies have emitted the greenhouse gases which have caused global warming and we have more of a responsibility to cut them now, and we have the resources to provide a solution," Mr Bray said.

In the region, there have been hundreds of jobs created in the region both direct and indirect, he said.

There are now jobs as turbine technicians, and there are a large number of ongoing short-term jobs across services. Thirteen people are employed at Gullen Range Wind Farm which produces 170 megawatts of energy, and at Crookwell 2 (91 MW) there are ten people are employed.

"Many of these workers have transitioned from other industries and applied those skills to work on wind farms, some of them are mechanical fitters, some are sparkies."

"They can also offer training around working on wind farms and solar farms and electrical vehicle plants, in new industries that are going to have a long term future.

"Labor is being proactive."