De­mand for in­fra­struc­ture up­grade

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

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