A PORTLAND engineering company set to lay off workers next month has been given fresh hope through proposed new federal government legislation favouring Australian input into major green energy projects.
Keppel Prince will trim its workforce in about a fortnight as work dries up on orders for wind farm towers.
It does not expect new orders until at least late this year for any of the five new south-west wind farm projects recently approved by the state government.
New hope has arisen from Climate Change Minister Greg Combet’s announcement earlier this week that any developer applying for a share in a new $10 billion clean energy fund would have to give Australian companies “full, fair and reasonable opportunity” to supply parts and services .
“We hope this will lead to more work coming our way,” Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner said yesterday.
“It means that if wind farm proponents are going to seek green energy funds they must submit an Australian Industry Participation Plan (AIPP).
“This is something we have been pushing for.
“We are only a couple of weeks away from having to cut staff and will probably decide next week on how many.”
Wannon MP Dan Tehan took a more cautious view of the proposed legislation and questioned why the $10 billion package was necessary when there was already a renewal energy credits system in place.
He has been asked to be part of a House of Representatives committee to examine the proposed legislation next week.
“Why couldn’t the AIPP have applied to the existing scheme, and why spend $10 billion when they already set a target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020?” Mr Tehan said.
“The new fund will disadvantage existing traditional renewable energy methods of solar, wind and wave projects. Spending of the $10 billion will start three months before the beginning of the scheduled next election.”
Keppel Prince job cuts next month will follow the company’s call in March for voluntary redundancies from its 450-strong workforce.
It had just finished 140 towers for the Macarthur wind farm and only had an order for 13 towers at the Mortons Lane, Caramut project to complete.
Plans for a $10 million upgrade of the Portland factory are on hold.