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Napthine government accused of attacking renewable energy incentives

Date

Josh Gordon

solar panels

solar panels Photo: Glenn Hunt

The Napthine government has been accused of systematically destroying renewable energy as green groups prepare for a ground offensive targeting key electorates ahead of the November 29 election.

A report by Environment Victoria claims the government has made 25 attacks on clean energy, including "extreme" restrictions on wind farms, removing the 20 per cent emissions reduction target from the Climate Change Act, cutting and restricting the solar feed-in tariff, scrapping a commitment to replace street lights with energy efficient light bulbs, cancelling the solar hot water rebate and opposing the carbon tax.

Since the November 2010 election, the environment has remained on the periphery of state politics. In the latest Age/Nielsen poll, it ranked sixth on a list of nine key issues for voters, behind health, education, jobs, financial management and public transport.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine. Photo: Getty Images/Graham Denholm

But with the Abbott government considering breaking an election pledge by scaling down Australia's renewable energy target, the state government is believed to be examining various options for an environment policy to counter voter concerns.

Environment Victoria is preparing to target key marginal electorates – including some of the crucial "sandbelt" seats on the eastern side of Port Philip Bay – using hundreds of trained volunteers.

Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham accused the government of running an agenda to destroy clean energy because it was "joined at the hip" with coal companies, risking billions of dollars of investment.

"Most of Victoria's policy agenda for a cleaner and more efficient energy mix has been deliberately dismantled over the past four years," Mr Wakeham said. "Few of these attacks were announced to the public before the 2010 election, and it is difficult to see how they have benefited the people of Victoria."

The antagonistic claims follow a submission to the federal review of Australia's renewable energy target by the Napthine Government. It argues the renewable energy target – ensuring that at least 20 per cent of Australia's electricity is derived from clean sources – should be scaled back and suggests gas-fired power and power generated using waste wood from native forest logging should be counted.

In a joint statement, Environment Minister Ryan Smith and Energy Minister Russell Northe accused Environment Victoria of having a "complete disregard" for cost of living issues.


"Environment Victoria is clinging on to the outdated view that state governments must lead on emission reductions measures, when it was federal Labor that said that states should instead take the lead on climate adaptation and not mitigation," the ministers said.

The ministers said renewable energy was already claiming an increasing share of the market, making up 12 per cent of all of Victoria's energy use.

But Mr Wakeham said renewable energy had increased its share in spite of state government policy, largely because of the federal renewable energy target, something which the state government's colleagues in Canberra want to destroy.

45 comments

  • Cant we have leaders who have a vision that in 20 years time, most of our energy demands come from renewables and the whole economy has adjusted to cater to this? Can't our fossil fuel industries invest away from coal and be part of the solution... or are dinosaurs unable to adapt to change?

    Commenter
    Trav
    Location
    Port Melb
    Date and time
    September 01, 2014, 8:15AM
    • Trav forget the Tax, Just Build Solar Power Stations. I would like to see a Govt. that has more than direct action. Put a budget together, and just do it. Clearly, from the billions that has been spent already, what benefit have we got for the cost?

      Commenter
      Kingstondude
      Location
      Malaysia atm
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 8:54AM
    • Trav
      Our Government does have a vision for the next 20 years. A vision of it being in Opposition for all that time if it turns it's back on it's big business mates.

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 8:54AM
    • solar power stations?

      oh thats right - unreliable supply, no power after dark - no airconditioning/no refrigeration/no trains or trams.

      a vote for solar and wind is a vote for a return to the stone age.

      Commenter
      frank
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 10:23AM
    • @ Frank, We use more electricity during the day, especially during summer. In particular, factories and offices. Once built, since the energy from the sun is free, they should produce cheaper electricity than brown coal fired power stations.

      Commenter
      Kingstondude
      Location
      Malaysia atm
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 10:34AM
    • @Frank: "oh thats right - unreliable supply, no power after dark - no airconditioning/no refrigeration/no trains or trams."

      Perhaps Frank hasn't heard of the working Concentrated Solar Thermal power stations in Spain. They put part of their output into melting salt - and the salt provides energy during the night as it solidifies back again. We need them here, too.

      Attacks on renewable energy for its alleged intermittency are outdated. CST and distributed wind leave only a small gap which needs filling - and that can be done with hydro.

      Commenter
      Greg Platt
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 11:07AM
    • Wow Greg, I agree with you on this point. Are you advocating the Building of more Dams? Tasmania, would have had all of its electicity supplied by renewble energy if it wasn't for Christine Milne and the Greens.

      Commenter
      Kingstondude
      Location
      Malaysia atm
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 11:14AM
    • @frank. Good point mate.

      I'm really disappointed that no one has pointed out that we can't produce electricity from renewable sources during the night time!

      Lets look at the facts why renewable sourced energy is a joke:
      1. The sun doesn't shine during the night. Now, if someone ended up inventing a storage device to keep excess energy for night time use (I heard the science community tinkering with something called a 'battery') then maybe it'd work
      2. We all know winds stop blowing after COB weekdays and run less efficiently during weekends. So that is a no go zone.
      3. Rivers are like the wind. They just stop working during the night times, it's a union enforced rule. Damn them!
      4. Ocean tides are too unreliable as they only happen like twice a day. How on earth would that be enough to fund our electrical needs?!!

      I refuse to go to go back to the stone age!

      Commenter
      deimos
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 11:15AM
    • Hydro. isn't that the stuff that the greenies move heaven and earth to prevent? (remember the franklin river?)

      australian hydro is so old it is not termed 'renewable' or 'green'. I've been to most of our hydro stations.

      like it or not, coal or nuclear is the only reliable way to make baseload power.

      as for melting sodium and chlorine - two of the worlds most reactive, poisonous substances - knock yourselves out - stand there and breathe in the fumes of green power and tell me how that works for you haha

      Commenter
      frank
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 11:26AM
    • solar panels are made with poisonous, reactive silane gas - its lethal to everything it touches - yet the peddlers of the stone age tell us that solar panels are good for mankind and good for the environment.

      head in sand if you ask me.

      Commenter
      frank
      Date and time
      September 01, 2014, 11:29AM

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