The south-west's future as a renewable energy hotspot grew on Tuesday with confirmation of two large projects for the region expected to generate 493.5 megawatts of power to help drive down energy prices for Victorian families.
The two projects - the Dundonnell Wind Farm north-east of Warrnambool and Mortlake South Wind Farm south of Mortlake - were part of the state's first renewable energy auction that will generate enough power for more than 640,000 homes – announced on Tuesday in Ararat by Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Energy Lily D'Ambrosio.
Together, all six projects in the auction will generate $1.1 billion of economic investment in regional Victoria and create more than 900 jobs, including 270 apprenticeships and traineeships.
The projects are in addition to a massive, $150 million solar farm near Bookaar that is tipped to bring 150 jobs to the region during construction and 760 of 1812 wind farm turbines being built, approved or being assessed in Victoria are located in the south-west.
And in other good news for the region's families, the state government also announced it will invest more than $1.3 billion to put solar panels, solar hot water, and battery systems on more than 700,000 households through the Solar Homes scheme if re-elected at the November poll.
The most recent figures show the south-west has embraced rooftop solar with around 6391 homes fitted with the panels across the region, producing about 26 MW.
The state government is offering to pay $5000 per household to the cost of installing battery systems on homes that already have solar panels, which means thousands of people across the south-west could take advantage of the scheme and save up to $650 a year on power bills.
The auction and household solar announcements are part of the state government's Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (VRET), which was initially expected to deliver at least 650MW of renewable energy.
However, the government says that goal has already been smashed, with the auction instead delivering 928MW of renewable energy – almost 45 per cent more power than originally anticipated.
The government says VRET will ensure that 25 per cent of our electricity generation comes from renewable sources by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025. It is expected the targets will drive around $9 billion of investment and create more than 11,000 jobs over the life of the scheme.
“It’s simple – greater supply of renewable energy means lower power prices and more jobs for Victorian families," Mr Andrews said.
“We’re making Victoria the capital of renewable energy and supporting the thousands of local jobs it creates.
"Despite these benefits, Matthew Guy and the Liberals have committed to scrap the VRET – driving up power prices, putting thousands of renewable energy jobs at risk and jeopardising Victoria’s energy security.
"In contrast, a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will invest more than $1.3 billion to put solar panels, solar hot water, and battery systems on more than 700,000 households through the Solar Homes scheme."
“Renewable energy creates jobs, drives growth, and protects our environment – and most importantly, helps drive down power prices for Victorian households and businesses," Ms D'Ambrosio added.
“In contrast to the Liberals who tried to shut this industry down, we’re backing renewable investment and renewable jobs.”