Environment Victoria is calling for state political parties to commit to climate policy that encourages continued growth in the renewable energy in Victoria.
The independent organisation’s new report, Making sure the renewable boom delivers for Victorians, was presented to energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio at a renewable energy forum in Ararat on Wednesday night.
It revealed the state government should legislate a Renewable Energy Guarantee to drive continued investment in renewable energy in Victoria.
The report said the guarantee should ensure 1000 MW of renewable energy is constructed every year between 2019 and 2024 in Victoria to provide manufacturers with the certainty they need to expand their facilities and employ more staff.
More than 70 community members from Ararat and surrounding regions attended the Environment Victoria and Friends of the Earth run forum to discuss the future of renewable energy in Western Victoria, including job opportunities and investment in the region.
Ararat Rural City mayor Gwenda Allgood, energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio and community business shared their views with the crowd.
Environment Victoria public policy and advocacy manager Dean Rizetti said he heard many say renewable energy was an ‘incredible new opportunity’ for the region.
“After the event I was talking to a lady whose son was worker as a laborer on one of the wind farms. For her this is a chance for her son to have a good job, learning new skills and help stop climate change,” he said.
Watch Environment Victoria’s video from the forum in Ararat below
There has been a boom in renewable energy investment in Victoria throughout the past four years, with 20 major wind farms and one solar farm already in operation in the state. Eleven wind farms and seven solar farms are under construction.
An array of wind farms have been constructed in Western Victoria, including the 107 wind turbine Moorabool Wind Farm and the 75 turbine Ararat Wind Farm.
Leigh Ewbank, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said Western Victoria was leading the state on climate solutions.
“Time is running out for Matthew Guy to release a plan to tackle climate change before the November election,” he said.
Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said Labor was yet to commit to the next phase of renewable energy.
“In the past four years Labor has been delivering for clean energy, but they haven't yet committed to the next phase of building big wind and solar farms and have shared little detail about how they will achieve the 40 per cent renewable energy target,” he said.
According to ABS figures, 1960 people were directly employed in installing, building and operating wind farms, rooftop solar and utility-scale solar projects in Victoria in 2016–17.
Modelling shows that renewable energy should halve wholesale energy prices by 2025, reducing energy bills for all Victorians.
“This November is a really important moment when we decide whether the renewable energy boom continues or whether it stops,” Mr Rizetti said.
The Environment Victoria report says cancelling the Victorian Renewable Energy Target will stop new investment in renewable energy projects and continuing with the current target structure without a guarantee will not provide sufficient certainty to drive investment.
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