Level Playing Field on Renewable Energy

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan has called for the government to treat renewable energy equally with other ways of reducing carbon emissions.

“Discriminating in favour of one form of reducing the carbon emissions pushes up the cost for everyone. The renewable energy target pushes up electricity prices, makes living costs higher and costs jobs in energy intensive sectors,” Senator Canavan said today.

“Subsidies in the order of $500,000 for each wind turbine should be significantly reduced.”

He was speaking following the release of the final report of the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, which inquired into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines. Senator Canavan was a member of the Committee.

“The Committee concluded that Australia’s Renewable Energy Target – by providing substantial cross-subsidies to the wind industry – is promoting an unbalanced market for renewables in Australia, with an over-reliance on wind,” he said. 

“Subsidising wind turbines is an inefficient and costly way to reduce carbon emissions and as a result is pushing up the cost of power in Australia unnecessarily.

“When the Federal Government introduced the expanded Renewable Energy Target, it expected this would be a temporary measure while an economy-wide carbon price was being developed.

“We now have an Emissions Reduction Fund. Wind and other renewable energy should receive assistance through this scheme, not receive special treatment.

“High power costs eat into profits for businesses and farmers, reducing wages and employment across the economy. They also make it harder for families to make ends meet. Forcing pensioners to turn off their electricity is not the best way to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions.

“In its report, the Committee has called for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the impact of wind power on retail electricity prices.”

Senator Canavan said the sector also needed to be better regulated.

“The Committee identified a number of major weaknesses in the way the wind sector in Australia is regulated that were eroding public confidence in the industry. 

“The industry has avoided some of the regulations, guidelines and frameworks that apply to other energy producing sectors and we concluded it is high time the wind sector 'caught up'.”

He said the Committee also found considerable gaps in understanding about the impact of wind turbines on human health.

“It is good to see a number of the recommendations of the Committee’s interim report, released in June, have already been adopted by the Government. 

“These include: establishing an Independent Expert Committee on Industrial Sound to examine the impact of wind turbines on human health; publishing research on sound measurement to improve planning and compliance decisions by State and Territory authorities; establishing a National Wind Farm Commissioner to resolve complaints; and seeking agreement from States and Territories to implement National Wind Farm Guidelines.”

A copy of the Committee’s final report is available at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Final_Report

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