Demand for infrastructure upgrade
The launch of a Victorian renewable-energy auction has prompted Wimmera development leaders to step up their call for urgent government investment to upgrade electrical infrastructure in the region.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said a lack of electricity-carrying capacity remained a major stumbling block in regional renewable-energy production.
“The Wimmera and southern Mallee has established a foothold in the industry with projects already operating or underway, and continues to attract considerable interest from renewableenergy companies,” he said.
“But in order for that investment to continue, we need the electrical grid infrastructure capable of meeting this demand.
“We don’t have it or any guarantees that it will happen and that is stalling development progress.
“At the moment the infrastructure can only support projects either already completed or underway and what we need to know is who is going to make the investment – state or federal governments – and when it’s going to happen.”
The State Government is running the ‘largest-ever’ renewable energy auction to boost investment, create new jobs and drive down electricity prices.
Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’ambrosio opened the competitive reverse auction last week.
The plan is to create 650 megawatts of Victorian renewable energy as a result of the auction.
Ms D’ambrosio said companies with planning permits to build a renewable-energy facility could now bid for 15-year support agreements with the State Government.
She said the long-term contracts would create investment certainty to build new energy-generation projects and reduce wholesale electricity prices.
The government expects the auction to drive up to $1.3-billion in new capital spending, create 1250 construction jobs and 90 ongoing roles.
Ms D’ambrosio said most of the new jobs would be created in regional Victoria where wind and solar projects were likely to be based.
“This competitive auction will provide much-needed certainty to the energy industry, supporting new projects in regional Victoria,” she said.
The auction is also designed to bring forward projects that achieve the highest standards of community engagement, benefit local economies and represent value for money. The State Government has a established a target of generating 25 percent of Victoria’s electricity generation by 2020 and increasing the amount to 40 percent by 2025.
The renewed push for renewableenergy projects in the region started with Ararat Wind Farm.
Construction of the Ararat farm and a similar but smaller project at Kiata in west Wimmera are complete.
Energy companies have already earmarked other renewable-energy projects in the region for Bulgana near Great Western and Murra Warra, Wonwondah and Drung near Horsham.