Sandi Keane: Citizens unite against Alcoa’s dirty brown coal mine and pitiful power plant
The Victorian Napthine Government’s dismal record on stewardship of the environment is only equalled by its blatant disregard for the health and welfare of some of its citizens — especially the most vulnerable, our children. In May this year, with its smelter operation due to close this month, Alcoa was issued a fresh licence to generate and sell its electricity into the grid. This filthy, sulphur-belching brown coal plant at Angelsea on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road – now up for sale – operates just over one kilometre from a primary school and 500 metres from residents’ homes.
This is the Government that demanded two kilometre setbacks for clean energy wind farms. In spite of the 2011 Senate finding and twenty reviews since proving no link between wind turbines and illness, the Government’s complicity in fostering these debunked claims saw an estimated $3 billion in wind investment go into free-fall.
So much for Victoria’s slice of the future low carbon economy. That’s the price Victorians and future generations will pay for the lax donor laws in this country that allow vested interests, like mining and developers, to launder millions into Liberal party campaign coffers through so-called trusts (as recently revealed by ICAC in New South Wales) and, thus, dictate policy outcomes. …
Denis Napthine once damned the Labor Government as “hypocritical when it comes to climate change” but has watered down the bilateral agreement with the former Labor Government of a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 to just “aspirational” only. As the saying goes: ‘If you take the King’s shilling, you do the King’s bidding.’
Like the RET, the Racial Discrimination Act was created with bipartisan support, was popular and had operated successfully for over 10 years.
Anger at the ideological changes to the RDA bubbled up from the local level, such as in the multicultural Sydney electorate of Reid where Liberal MP Craig Laundy championed his constituents’ concerns. He argued strongly and publicly that his own government was on the wrong track and that the changes to were wrong.
Laundy’s stand was vindicated when the changes were ultimately overwhelmed by the tide of public protest they provoked. A similar passion, but this time over renewable energy, was felt last week by Dan Tehan, Liberal MP for Wannon in south-western Victoria . Continue reading
Sydney and Melbourne going green despite uncertainty over future of Renewable Energy Target
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-26/sydney-and-melbourne-going-green-despite-ret-uncertainty/5625976 By Lisa Tucker Australia’s biggest cities are setting ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions despite signs the Federal Government will wind back the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
The review into the country’s RET is expected to make its recommendations next week.
But when it comes to going green, Melbourne and Sydney are on the same page and are determined to make it happen, whatever direction Canberra takes.
The cities are rolling out solar panels, installing LED light systems and designing energy efficient buildings.
Sydney plans to reduce its emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 while Melbourne aims to have zero net emissions in just five-and-a-half years.
City of Melbourne Councillor, Arron Wood, says environmental action is at the forefront of everything the council is doing.
“We’re certainly making big inroads, but to reach that goal by 2020, there’s some pretty big numbers,” he said.
“[But] I am absolutely vehemently opposed to any relaxing of the renewable energy target. It’s done wonderful things in terms of renewable energy investment.
“Interestingly enough we talk about the cost that renewable energy targets add to people’s bills, but when you look at the wholesale cost, it’s one of the only measures which is actually putting pressure on wholesale electricity prices.”
Renewable energy key factor in reducing emissions.
Sydney’s goal is to produce 70 per cent of its electricity needs from tri-generation, a more environmentally friendly, low-carbon production method with solar and wind power making up the rest.
Melbourne is aiming for a renewable energy contribution of 50 per cent.
“Really, you do have to have a large proportion of your energy mix coming from renewable to have a hope of reaching that target,” Cr Wood said.
“Even the Urban Forest Strategy, which is about cooling our city: we’ve got a target of doubling the canopy cover in the city by 2040.
“That’s really about decreasing ambient temperatures and meeting the urban heat effect. But what it does is, it also makes the city look good.”
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore says any change to the target will make Sydney’s goal more difficult to achieve.
“It’s much better if the national Government is also committed to taking action on climate change,” Ms Moore said.
“We already know with the winding back of the carbon pricing that it’s making it harder to achieve our tri-generation precincts in Sydney. So that would have an effect.”
Ms Moore says the steps being taken have the community’s full support.
“We are the most urbanised country in the world and we know that our cities are where 70 per cent of emissions occur,” she said.
“I think it’s really incumbent upon city leaders to commit to taking this action and follow through on it.”
Wind companies question planning office response ENERGY companies will be allowed to make minor changes to wind farm planning permits from next month. Weekly Times 22 July 14, The move — which will pave the way for up to 964 turbines to be built across the state creating up to 2376 megawatts of wind energy — has been labelled a “change of heart” by Greens leader Greg Barber.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said “we’re making a small adjustment to the planning scheme to allow existing wind farm planning permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology”……….http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510
Energy builds for Yackandandah renewables target http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/06/27/4034789.htm By Nick Fogarty
Members of TRY heard about Wildspoldsried – which produces three-times its total energy needs from renewables – at a community energy congress in Canberra last week. TRY spokesperson, Matthew Grogan, said their hope is that Yackandandah will be producing 100 percent of its own energy needs from renewables by the year 2022.
“We’ve got incredible fossil fuel resources … it’s tried and true technology and there’s a lot of it there,” Mr Grogan said. “But we know the damage that it causes and it’s at crisis point, the damage that that’s causing. “In addition to that brown coal we’ve also got one of the world’s best profiles of solar energy.”
TRY is encouraged by the fact that north-east Victoria receives more solar radiation than Germany, the world’s largest producer of solar energy. The switch to renewables has also brought financial benefits for Wildspoldsried, Mr Grogan said, from “energy tourism” and the sale of excess power back into the grid.
Wildspoldsried made the switch with stunning speed, having aimed for a target of 100 percent renewables within 10 years, but achieved the goal in five years. It’s early days for the Yackandandah group, but a community-owned petrol station and an already-high uptake of solar among residents shows a willingness to look for alternatives.
Yackandandah is not alone in its vision, with around 50 other Australian communities attending last week’s congress.
Mr Grogan said TRY had already approached local supermarkets (the area’s largest energy users) and funding bodies to sell their vision. “We know the technology is out there, we know solar panels are coming down and batteries are coming down as well in price,” Mr Grogan said. “It’s a really exciting phase to be honest, we’re just approaching it with a lot of creativity and taking any opportunities as they arise.”
City of Melbourne aims to become carbon neutral leader June 12, 2014 SMH, Tom Arup and Aisha Dow As the conversation turns to the death of Melbourne’s trees the city’s influential head planner, Professor Rob Adams, chokes up. He takes a moment, then continues. “The evidence is so obvious,” he declares, “You don’t have to go to the scientists, you just have to look at the trees in Melbourne.”
Adams is talking about climate change. And despite its wealth and culture Melbourne’s city heart is not immune to its impacts. Nor is its contribution to the problem insignificant.
In response Melbourne City Council has set perhaps the most ambitious climate change goal in Australia – to produce zero net emissions from the CBD and surrounding suburbs under its oversight by 2020.
Needless to say it is a level of ambition not matched by state and federal governments.
In fact Adams – credited with revitalising the CBD over recent decades – is upset about what he describes as the federal government’s retreat on the issue.
“Why don’t I get depressed, when I look at my little grand daughter who is eight months old?” he says.
“I think they are going to be shamed into action, I think it is going to be so embarrassing to be in the space they are in, with the assets and the ability they have got, they’ll have to move out of that space and back into the real world.”
“And I feel that strongly. We see it. The reason we have an urban forest strategy is I watched our trees dying. And, and …”
Without intervention 27 per cent of Melbourne city trees are expected to be lost in 10 years due to heat, disease and old age. But they are not the only element of city life threatened by a warming planet.
Council research on the impact of January’s record-breaking heatwave – which scientists project will occur more frequently as climate change worsens – found city retailers lost $37 million over four days as shoppers stayed out of the 40-plus degree heat. Last year flood modelling, based on end of century sea-level rise of 0.8 metres, found average annual inundation bills in Southbank could alone rise from $3 million in 2011 to $20 million by 2100 if prevention is not taken.
With high stakes and high ambition city council this year updated its plan for the zero emissions goal. It is a document of many concrete measures, plenty of promises and the occasional motherhood statement. An implementation plan is due later this year.
Chair of Melbourne’s environment portfolio, Cr Arron Wood, says one option to meet the target would see Melbourne switch to 50 per cent renewable energy. Most of that power would be fed into the city from large solar and wind farms located in regional Victoria, he says.
About 1500 megawatts of renewable energy would have to be generated, enough for 480,000 average homes. To do this it would take 15 massive solar plants of the type currently being built on 250 hectares of farming land near Nyngan in regional NSW.
It is Cr Wood’s goal to eventually have some of the city’s biggest energy users – hospitals, universities and sporting precincts – directly powered by renewable energy farms located far beyond the city edge. A much smaller amount of energy, enough to power 10,000 houses, could be generated from solar panels on warehouses and commercial buildings inside the municipality of Melbourne………. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/city-of-melbourne-aims-to-become-carbon-neutral-leader-20140613-zs5xy.html
Renewable Energy Target review sparks fears for wind farm http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-11/renewable-energy-target-review-sparks-fears-for/5514354 11 Jun 2014, Investors in Australia’s first community-owned wind farm near Daylesford say the venture could fail, if changes are made to the Renewable Energy Target. The Federal Government has ordered a review into the pledge of producing 20 per cent of power from renewable sources by 2020. People involved in the Hepburn Wind project met members of the review panel in Daylesford yesterday. Hepburn Wind’s founding chairman, Simon Holmes Court, says scrapping the target would cost locals thousands of dollars. “I can’t sugar-coat it – the project will not be able to continue in its current form,” he said. Hepburn has operated turbines since 2011. Director David Perry says the cost would not just be financial. “Perhaps the most painful thing would be to have all that time and passion over the years lost,” he said. The panel toured the wind farm and congratulated Hepburn Wind on its work.
Napthine government wants gas included in renewable energy target June 3, 201 Tom Arup Environment editor, The Age Australia’s renewable energy target would include gas-fired power – derived from fossil fuels – under a controversial proposal by the Victorian government.
The state also suggests the target should also be scaled back to reflect falling demand for power……….
Greens Leader Greg Barber said including gas in the target would be “a huge hit to the earth …….”If Premier Denis Napthine has convinced himself that gas is a renewable energy source, then he is confused,” he said. “Adding gas to the renewable energy target means it is no longer about renewable energy.”
The Victorian opposition said the government should be fighting to maintain the target in current form.
Labor energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio said: “As it stands, the [target] provides investment in new industries and will create thousands of jobs for Victorians. We wholeheartedly support that – Denis Napthine should too.”……..
The Victorian submission puts it at odds with renewable energy firms and NSW, which supports the target as it stands but wants the timeframe to achieve it pushed out…….
Environment Victoria campaigner Nick Aberle said keeping the target would allow Victoria to tap into billions of dollars of clean energy investment, creating skilled jobs in regional areas. “There is also good evidence that keeping the target will ultimately lead to lower electricity prices for consumers,” Dr Aberle said.
In a separate submission, the City of Melbourne strongly backs the retention of the target as it stands. It says the policy is pushing down wholesale electricity prices, benefiting consumers including manufacturers in the city.
The Melbourne City Council submission also says the advent of renewable energy technology, such as rooftop solar panels, has strengthened the resilience of the energy grid and both put curbs on demand and lowered prices during extreme heatwaves.http://www.theage.com.au/environment/energy-smart/napthine-government-wants-gas-included-in-renewable-energy-target-20140603-39gs0.html
Wind future up in the air with renewable energy target uncertainty http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/2301438/wind-future-up-in-the-air-with-renewable-energy-target-uncertainty/?cs=12 By KARA IRVING May 22, 2014, THE developer of the Ararat Wind Farm project believes the federal government’s renewable energy target (RET) review has caused uncertainty among green energy developers, investors and retailers. RES Australia is behind the $450 million Ararat Wind Farm to be built on the Pyrenees Highway about 17 kilometres from Ararat. Head of development Annette Deveson said the ongoing RET review had stirred uncertainty in the green energy sector.
“We are working very hard to get the Ararat Wind Farm ready for construction,” Ms Deveson said. “But the government is causing uncertainty in the industry and for us.” The federal government is currently reviewing the RET to examine the operation, costs and benefits of the scheme.
The RET was developed to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.
Although a decision had yet to be made about the renewable energy targets, Ms Deveson said the review had caused difficulties for prospective green energy developers. “They are not out there in the market looking for new projects,” she said. “As a business you are uncertain of your future market.”
Ms Deveson said the potential change impacted on investor confidence. Ararat Rural City Council last Friday made a submission to the RET review to pledge the importance of the project.
Mayor Paul Hooper said it was likely the wind farm would not be built because of the review. “The project will create 13 full time jobs after the construction has finished,” he said. “About $75,000 will be put back into community grants.”Mr Harper said the Ararat community would miss out if the project were to cease.“We will not see those benefits come to town, nor the long term employment opportunities,” he said.
“The community misses out.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Napthine pledges continued push for renewable energy investment http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-19/napthine-pledges-continued-push-for-renewable/5461022 19 May 2014, Premier Denis Napthine says he will work with renewable energy companies in south-west Victoria, amid concerns about their future.
The Federal Government axed the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation in last week’s budget.
It is also reviewing the Renewable Energy Target.
Portland-based company Keppel Prince makes towers for wind turbines and says 150 jobs are at risk.
Dr Napthine says he hopes planned projects go ahead.
“We’ll continue to work with the Federal Government, work with the alternative energy industry, whether it’s wind energy, geothermal energy and wave energy, to see what prospects there are to continue investment in alternative energy under the new frameworks,” he said.
Greens call for state clean energy fund, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/greens-call-for-state-clean-energy-fund-20140413-36ldj.html 13 April 14, The Greens want the Victorian government to establish a state-based clean energy fund to make solar panels more affordable.
Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne call for the creation of a Victorian Solar Fund to help homes and businesses deal with the upfront costs of solar panels.
Senator Milne said the fund would make money for the state and reduce power bills. “Australia is a leader in solar science but is underinvested in solar power, depriving us of jobs that the community is calling out for,” she said on Sunday.
“We can create the financial incentives to put solar panels on roofs, for no money down, delivering immediate savings on electricity bills.”
Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Threatened http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4223 18 March 14 The war on green schemes relating to energy is continuing – the latest victim could be the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET).
The VEET scheme is designed to make energy efficiency improvements more affordable. It commenced on 1 January 2009 and was legislated to continue in three-year phases until 1 January 2030.
However, it may meet a very premature end. On Sunday, the Herald Sun published a story on a “secret government report” into the scheme that recommended it be abolished and replaced by 2015. Among the reasons reportedly stated is the scheme has been labeled inefficient and a burden to other electricity users.
The Clean Energy Council says claims axing the scheme would provide substantial power bill relief are wrong; as is the conclusion it is ineffective. “The program is getting through to those that need it most and previous studies have shown that it is working well at a low cost,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green.
“Two out of every five households in the program have below-average incomes and a third are on some form of welfare.”
Among the products covered under the scheme are selected solar hot water systems and heat pumps. Water heating represents one of the most greenhouse gas and energy intensive activities in a household. This is particularly so in Victoria given much of the state’s electricity generation is through the burning of brown coal – one of the filthiest fossil fuels.
Mr Green said the ‘secret’ modelling released to select media outlets should be fully released for public scrutiny and is confident that scrutiny will reveal VEET is continuing to deliver, both in terms of household savings and the economic activity it creates.
According to the Clean Energy Council, VEET has slashed energy costs for approximately 1.3 million households and businesses; plus has supported thousands of jobs in Victoria’s economy.
The Liberal Party’s nuclear dreams: The strange case of Dr John White and Ignite, Independent Australia Sandi Keane 12 March 2014,
Why were Ignite Energy so desparate to dissociate their director Dr John White from both the nuclear industry and the Liberal Party? Deputy editor Sandi Keaneinvestigates.
More to the point, is the iconic Ninety Mile Beach region of Gippsland being eyed off as a future source of thorium – uranium’s young sister – the substance hailed by nuclear proponents as the green energy source of the future?………
Enquiries to both the Sydney and Melbourne offices of Ignite confirmed that, yes, Dr White was still one of its key people — manager, government and community liaison. Less than five months ago, he was introduced as Ignite’s “executive director” in an interview with the ABC’s The World Today on 17 October 2013. Indeed, the receptionist at Ignite thought that the ‘executive director’ title was still listed on Dr White’s CV.
So, why delete it from the website and have conniptions over us publishing his connections to the Uranium Industry Framework? Also, what did Megan Davison mean by ‘casting aspersions’? Was it the reference to his being ‘a key Liberal Party adviser in the Howard-era’?
As chair of Howard’s Uranium Industry Framework and mastermind of the business plan for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (now renamed the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Co-operation), ‘key adviser’ hardly seems to do him justice.
Is this a reaction to the claims by members of the Gippsland community that Ignite is getting favourable treatment because of John White’s special relationship with the Liberal Party?
ELA4968’s thorium prospects Continue reading
Mixed Greens: Climate youth want 100% renewables in 10 years, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 10 February 2014″……Power outages, sparked by the periods of extreme heat that have characterised Victoria’s 2013-14 summer, would have been much more common but for the contributions of energy efficiency, a new report has found. The report, released today by the Energy Efficiency Certificate Creators Association (EECCA), found that the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) Scheme helped reduce peak demand by 187MM over the January heat wave. “Without the contribution from the VEET, the demand at 4pm on 16th January would have been 10,427 MW exceeding the previous electricity peak of 10,415 MW on 29 January 2009 in the lead up to the Black Saturday bushfires,” the report says. As well as saving over $500 million in the reduction of Victorian household and business energy bills, the report says the energy efficiency scheme reduced stress on infrastructure during the hot spell and likely reduced the prevalence of system black outs. Continue reading
Consultation is the key to curing wind turbine syndrome, KETAN JOSHI ABC Environment 3 Feb 14 “…….In Australia, community ownership is gaining traction. My employer, InfigenEnergy, is looking to enable community ownership of one of the wind turbines at the Flyer’s Creek development in NSW, through theCentral NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative (CENREC).
The Hepburn Wind Farm, a two-turbine community-owned wind farm in Victoria, has generated 27,809 megawatt-hours since commencement — enough to power an average Australian home for 4,209 years, and the proposed Fremantle Co-operative wind farm project in WA recently hit a $10,000 crowd-funding target to produce myth-busting videos on wind energy. The Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm development utilises a community benefit model that is the first of its kind, and has been welcomed by locals.
These initiatives are, simply, the circuit-breakers needed to lessen the influence of lobby groups working against the integration of renewable technology into our energy system, and empower communities. Abbott’s research will likely be ineffective in lessening the spread of wind energy health fears in communities.
The deployment of clean technology across Australia as a means of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will be stewarded by tight-knit Australian communities. The companies that develop, operate and maintain large-scale generation assets fuelled by renewable resources can only benefit from community ownership and engagement.
It seems the only ones who will lose out from this shift will be those who professionally stoke anger and feed fear. The demand for their resource will run swiftly dry.http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/02/03/3935067.htm