Workers at Australia's largest producers of wind turbine towers have urged Premier Denis Napthine to support the renewable energy target, warning hundreds of jobs in his electorate are at risk.
Portland's Keppel Prince is the second-largest employer in south-west Victoria and 76 of its workers have written to Dr Napthine, who is also their local member, saying a cut to the renewable energy target would devastate the local community. ''A weakened target will cost jobs, investment, and hurt businesses in the south-west,'' the letter reads.
The company employed about 100 people in its wind energy division before retrenching almost half its workforce in 2010 due to uncertainty around the renewable energy target, which is under review by the federal government.
It comes as recent data from the Clean Energy Council revealed a cut to the 20 per cent renewable energy target could cost Victoria 6400 jobs, including an estimated 750 jobs in Dr Napthine's seat of South-West Coast.
Long-term Portland resident Roger Teal has been painting turbine towers at Keppel Prince for seven years and fears he will lose his job if the renewable energy target is weakened.
''The town is dying and if Keppel Prince goes, there's going to be very little employment. We need the RET so we have something to build. Without it, there's no incentive for anyone to pursue renewable energy.''
Mr Teal said cheap imports of turbine towers from South Korea and China had exacerbated the situation.
Opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D'Ambrosio said the Napthine government's ''anti-wind farm'' planning laws had compounded the issue.
''Mr Napthine needs to decide: is he backing Victorian jobs or will he join Tony Abbott's crusade against renewable energy.''
Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner said 150 jobs at the company were at risk.
''The RET is really the lifeblood of what we are doing down here. We have been working in wind farms for about 13 years and the RET needs to be of a sufficient size so we can secure work from it.''
Dr Napthine recently told ABC radio he would work with the federal government and renewable energy businesses in south-west Victoria, to ''see what prospects there are to continue investment in alternative energy under the new frameworks''.
A government spokesman said the Premier had worked with local manufacturers to encourage the use of locally built towers for Australian projects, and had also helped the industry deal with allegations of dumping by overseas manufacturers.