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Joint Letter to State Premier Denis Napthine

On the viability of wind energy in Geelong and the Surf Coast and the creation of a Victorian Renewable Energy Target

The Hon. Premier Dr Denis Napthine

Premier Napthine,

The Geelong and Surf Coast region has played a pioneering role when it comes to renewable energy in our state.

26 years ago this month, the blades of Victoria’s first wind turbine started spinning in Breamlea — transforming the steady sea winds into clean electricity for Victorians.

The State Electricity Commission built the Breamlea turbine in 1987 to demonstrate the viability of wind energy in Victoria. We now know the SEC was onto something.

A report by Sinclair Knight Mertz estimates the Macarthur and Oaklands wind farm projects further west pumped $67 million into the regional economy, created 900 construction jobs and 52 ongoing jobs. 65 of those jobs are in wind turbine tower fabrication at Portland’s Keppel Prince Engineering.

The Geelong region has the manufacturing prowess and the wind energy resources to benefit from wind energy.

Amendments to the planning scheme made by your predecessor, former Premier Ted Baillieu, stand in the way of new wind farm projects in our region, and have already caused a community wind farm project to be scrapped.

More recently, your government withdrew funding for a 20 megawatt geothermal plant that would generate clean power for our region. This project will not be built.

The law prevents us from replacing a polluting power plant in Anglesea with renewable energy sources.

Two thirds of Victoria’s wind energy is now generated in your electorate. As the local member for one of Australia’s best wind energy regions, you are keenly aware of how much the renewable energy sector benefits the community.

We urge you to rewrite your government’s wind farm planning guidelines and take concrete steps to support renewable energy in our region and unlock jobs and investment.

The Baillieu government had the good sense to alter its wind energy guidelines before. The original iteration of the anti-wind energy guidelines prohibited small-scale turbines — such as Austeng’s Eco Whisper turbine manufactured in North Geelong — for residential and industrial use. Recognising the importance of small-scale wind energy and its value for the manufacturing sector, the state government changed the law.

Inaction on this front will result in job opportunities, investment and income for farmers continuing to move west to South Australia — a state with fair and balanced planning guidelines for wind farms.

The Geelong region is the birthplace of the state’s renewable energy sector. The region played a pioneering role before, and with leadership from you and local MPs, it can again.

The current review of Australia’s renewable energy future enphasizes the need for Victoria to set up its own, more ambitious Renewable Energy Target for the state. This will be vital to ensure that new renewable energy projects continue to cut emissions and deliver jobs and investment into Victoria.


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[To sign this letter, come to Eastern Park on 27 April between 11am and 1pm]

» Read more about the Renewable Energy Target:  Protect the Renewable Energy Target