RET Update

You may be aware that there has been much turmoil with regards to the Renewable Energy Target. None of this has been good for renewable energy. In case you have struggled with the bucket loads of contradictory media on this issue – read on for a concise summary.

At long last, the Government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), has reached its conclusion with the passage by the Parliament of amendments to the RET legislation. Importantly, the amendments were supported by both major political parties returning bipartisan support to this legislation first implemented in 2001. While it is regrettable that the legislation reduces the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) to 33 Terrawatt-hours (TWh) in 2020, this is still an 80% increase from this year’s target of 18 TWh. Therefore, the amended legislation requires that we grow large scale renewables by 80% in just 4 ½ years which is good for the industry.

The other key point was the axing of the two-yearly reviews which tended to stall investment as industry became concerned when ‘the rules’ could change every two years. So while it is not the best outcome, it is a workable one that should see new wind farms built in the foreseeable future. One large wind farm has already been committed to construction – the 75 wind turbine Arrarat Wind farm in Western Victoria. Return of bipartisan support for the RET legislation will see over 5,000MW of other large scale renewable energy projects committed to construction through the remainder of this decade.


The Board members of CENREC have also been busy working to get CENREC ready for the day when Flyers Creek Wind Farm is announced.

CENREC has had a few changes at the Board level, our Chair Patrick Bradbery retired from being Chair, he is still a Director and continues to look after our finances and work on getting our rules and disclosure statement updated. Pat’s work as the Chair has been greatly appreciated. Tracey Carpenter also stepped down from the Board to run as the local Greens candidate for Bathurst at the State Election. Rachael Young stepped up to the Chair position and is making it her goal to raise the profile of CENREC. Our other Directors are Ashley Bland, Simon Wright, Brian Lederer and Jonathon Upson.

April, saw three of CENREC’s Directors head to Sydney to speak with Senator Dastyari about the Renewable Energy Target and the importance of retaining a strong target into the future. Due to our somewhat unusual status as a community renewable energy cooperative we have also made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Cooperatives and Mutuals.

In May 2014 the Board decided that it was time to get some projects happening to raise some cash for CENREC and to help raise awareness of renewable energy in the area. To this end, CENREC is starting to explore some ideas of a community solar bulk buy centred around the Blayney Community.  If anyone is interested in putting some time into this project please contact Rachael at Updates of our progress on this will come through future newsletters.

In June Rachael and Brian attended an event run by the South East Region of Renewable Energy Excellence (SERREE) in Canberra and learned all sorts of interesting things about what’s happening in the ACT – their 90% renewable energy target and focus on industry innovation is very exciting.  We also met lots of great people and we have been in the process of contacting all these people and following leads for funding and further support for CENREC.

Rachael will be meeting with the NSW Renewable Energy Advocate in late July to discuss CENREC, our goals and what possibilities there are for support in further developing and promoting our business model.


Flyers Creek Community Consultative Committee Meeting – 6pm 7 September 2015 at Blayney Community Centre.  Members of the public are welcome to observe the meeting.

CENREC AGM October – TBC A Meeting for members and people interested in CENREC to see what we’ve been up to.

Flyers Creek Community Consultative Committee Meeting – 6pm 16 November 2015 at Blayney Community Centre.  Members of the public are welcome to observe the meeting.

Keep aiming at the renewable energy target!

Renewable Energy Target review 2014

Tony Abbott wishes to become known as the infrastructure Prime Minister. He has also declared Australia ‘open for business’.

If he allows the renewable energy target (RET) scheme to be reduced or dismantled, both these declarations become erroneous, as it would cripple this piece of Howard Government initiated infrastructure and thereby put at risk both domestic and international business investment.

Since 2001, the RET has, via the large-scale renewable energy target (think hydro, solar/wind farms) and small-scale renewable energy scheme (think residential solar pv/hot water/heat pumps), provided a financial incentive to generate an estimated $18.5b of investment in renewable energy as a healthier, less environmentally-damaging, less water-intensive alternative to fossil fuel sourced energy (which still receives more than 6 times the subsidies of its farming-friendly counterpart). Removing or reducing the financial incentive undermines the infrastructure, disrupts business continuity and weakens investor confidence.

The RET has helped build a renewable energy industry now employing some 24,000 people, many in regional Australia, which in particular has enjoyed job transition opportunities. Maintaining it will increase investment to 2020 by a projected $18.8b with a carbon price and $8.9b without, as well as creating in excess of 18,000 jobs; diluting the target will inevitably result in job losses and fewer opportunities.

One of the RET’s primary objectives is “to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector”. It has achieved a reduction so far of 22.5 million tonnes. If it is removed, an estimated 34.7 million tonnes of additional carbon emissions will be released by 2020.

The last RET review was undertaken in 2012 by the Climate Change Authority, a government body with a board of directors comprising respected business heads Bernie Fraser, John Marley and Heather Ridout and eminent scientists Professors Ian Chubb CA, David Karoly, Clive Hamilton and John Quiggin. The government’s response in April 2013 “agrees that full reviews every four years would provide an appropriate balance between flexibility in the scheme and policy stability for investments” (regrettably failing to enshrine this recommendation in law) and ”notes that modelling conducted for the Review found that reducing the target would not result in a material reduction to average household electricity bills and would not justify the damage to investor confidence that would be caused by such a change.” The government’s response also states “The RET is designed to be technology neutral, which ensures the target is met at lowest cost.”

The Abbott Government’s non-statutory review, just 18 months after the last review, is putting the clean energy sector at risk, and threatens to rob communities of the opportunity to benefit from the emerging community energy sector. Prior to election, Greg Hunt repeatedly stated, “We agree on the science; we agree on the targets; we agree on market mechanisms.”


If the government breaks their renewable energy promise, it may be many years before we see communities benefit from their own community-scale clean energy projects.

Modelling recently commissioned by the Clean Energy Council indicates the removal of the RET would increase electricity bills by $50 by 2020, beyond that by up to $140, with reduced competition and inevitably higher gas prices as major contributors. Maintaining the RET effectively insures against rising gas prices, encouraging renewable energy supply to offset the need for gas-fired back-up to the grid.

On 2 February 2010, on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, Tony Abbott said, “The climate change argument is absolute crap, however the politics are tough for us because 80 per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

With 97% of the brightest amongst us in the climate science community supporting man-made climate change as evidence-based, not a faith, this majority of the Australian electorate has a conviction, not simply a belief. A similar majority have shown consistent support for renewable energy. Tony Abbott agrees, saying “Renewable energy makes a lot of sense.”

Displacing the extraction of buried fossilised carbon with the harnessing of free and abundant energy sources is logical. Building a globally significant industry to service this with world class research centres and natural resources which are the envy of the globe is already achieved. Downgrading the RET risks losing our competitive advantage. Keeping the 41 TWh target will best place this most promising Australian industry to deliver according to plan.

Improving its efficiency is a challenge worthy of an infrastructure Prime Minister.


‘We have a responsibility to the community’

CENREC chair asks Infigen to fund Flyers Creek reconciliation process

12 February 2014 at the Blayney Shire Community Centre, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) heard from a cross section of the community regarding the proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm project. Among the speakers was Dr Patrick Bradbery, Chair of the Central NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative (CENREC).

Dr Bradbery began by summarising the economic benefits which will flow from the sale of electricity generated from this clean, renewable resource, including the estimated $340,000 in dividends and community grants.

He reiterated points from NSW Planning’s recommendation for approval of the project:

  • offsetting greenhouse gas, particulate and other polluting emissions
  • avoiding water consumption associated with fossil fuel powered energy generation

as well as the Department’s satisfaction ‘that the project can achieve acceptable amenity, health and environmental standards through the recommended conditions of approval and the Proponent’s Statement of Commitments, and can proceed in a sustainable manner with overall benefits to the State.’

Dr Bradbery then addressed the opposition to the project, saying ‘It is recognized by Central NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative that not everybody is in favour of the proposed development, including a number of the neighbours and that those who oppose the development have every right to do so.  As an Aboriginal person, I am only too well aware of the deleterious impact of unwelcome changes to traditional ways of life.’

‘However, in the interests of the global population now and in the future, we cannot continue to do what we have always done and expect the outcome to be different.  Fifty thousand years of living in this land has taught the Aboriginal people that if we do not respect country, it will not respect us.  We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels for our growing energy needs.  It is Central NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative’s collective belief that adopting renewable energy in a variety of forms is essential to the future well being of the world and its inhabitants.’

He noted that some of the concerns expressed at the PAC hearing on the previous day resonated with Board members of CENREC and emphasised, ‘We are determined that these concerns should be satisfactorily resolved by the PAC before approval of the project.  As a community based organisation, we recognise that we have a responsibility to the community, and we need to be comfortable that legitimate concerns are heard and judged equitably,’ adding he would leverage CENREC’s position as mediator to seek clarification from Infigen about the matters.

Of particular concern is the division in the community referred to by local member Paul Toole and so obvious in many of the presentations at the hearing.  However, Dr Bradbery disagreed that the cause of this division is the wind farm per se.

‘It is the flawed process that seems to have been undertaken by Infigen, the Department of Planning and other stakeholders.  Surely, there is one lesson that can be learned from the last 226 years of Australian history.  When ‘power over’ is used to achieve important outcomes, deep-seated division is an inevitable consequence.  We are only now beginning to see the prospect of that division being healed,’ he argued.

‘I am therefore requesting the PAC Commissioners to approve the Flyers Creek Wind Farm Project with an additional condition.  That condition is that the proponent funds a significant and on-going community reconciliation process among the members of the Flyers Creek community.  The division must not be ignored,’ he concluded.


AMA Position Statement on Wind Farms and Health 2014

On the 21 March 2014 the AMA released its Position Statement on Wind Farms and Health 2014.

AMA Vice President and Chair of the AMA Public Health Committee, Professor Geoffrey
Dobb, said the available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that
wind farms cause adverse health effects.

“The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well
below the level where known health effects occur,” Professor Dobb said.

“And there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause
health effects.

“People living near wind farms who experience adverse health or wellbeing may well do so
because of heightened anxiety or negative perceptions about wind farms.

“The reporting of supposed ‘health scares’ or the spreading of misinformation about wind farm
developments may contribute to heightened anxiety.

“The regulation of wind farm developments should be guided entirely by the evidence
regarding their impacts and benefits.

“Community consultation and engagement at the start of the process is important to minimise
misinformation, anxiety, and community division.

“From a public health perspective, it is important to note that electricity generation by wind
turbines does not involve the production of greenhouse gases, other pollutant emissions or
waste, all of which can have significant direct and indirect health effects,” Professor Dobb said.

The AMA Position Statement on Wind Farms and Health 2014 is at