LOCAL pro-wind energy groups are stepping up their fight in the battle over wind farms in the south-west.
Victorian Wind Alliance, aka VicWind — a community and small business group — is mobilising its members against the possible dumping of the federal Renewable Energy Target (RET).
Yesterday VicWind launched a petition calling on the Commonwealth to keep the RET intact.
VicWind south-west co-ordinator Angela McFeeters said 400 people were employed solely on Pacific Hydro’s final wind farm in Portland at Cape Nelson.
Another 200 have permanent full-time work on wind energy in Portland alone, including Keppel Prince.
“Portland has become a real renewable energy hub and the whole south-west region is fantastic for rolling out wind energy. We’re providing manufacturing but also lots of services to the industry,” Ms McFeeters said.
“We want the RET strengthened.”
Climate change groups suspect Prime Minister Tony Abbott is poised to make changes to the Howard-era policy after appointing businessman and former Reserve Bank board member Dick Warburton to head up the review. Mr Warburton has previously stated his scepticism that man-made carbon dioxide is leading to global warming.
Ms McFeeters also warned that companies such as Union Fenosa, which has approvals to build wind farms at Ryan Corner and Hawkesdale, could scrap the projects if the RET is scaled back from its 20 per cent green energy goal by 2020.
“They may be dumped absolutely. It’s a business decision and the case isn’t looking terrific,” she said.
Ryan Corner beef and prime lamb producer Kieron Moore is hoping to secure nine turbines from the 68-turbine wind farm, which has been placed on hold until the review is finished.
While he declined to say how much the turbines would contribute to his farm, he said: “It provides surety against seasons and low commodity prices”.
“It would be enough to retire on and let my son take over the property.”
Meanwhile, another community group called the Penshurst Wind Benefits Group has formed to back a 200-turbine proposal near the township.
“We’re trying to counter-act the (negative) responses of a few very vocal people in the community. It’s been controversial but we’re trying to stop that and say this is a process of development to get away from dirty coal-fired generation,” member Ruth Pihl said.