Liberal tilts at expensive wind mills

Angus Taylor

Angus Taylor at a property near Gunning in NSW . . . he says the renewable energy target scheme is inefficient

Photo: Rob Homer Source: AFR

Australian Financial Review

February 26, 2013

By Mathew Dunckley and Marcus Priest

A star business recruit to the Liberal Party is trying to convince the Coalition to reduce its support for green power projects, particularly wind farms that are deeply unpopular with farmers in his rural electorate.

Angus Taylor, a Liberal candidate for the seat of Hume in NSW and a Rhodes Scholar who works at management consulting firm Port Jackson Partners, has distributed a policy paper within the party that argues the renewable energy target (RET) should be overhauled.

He argues the scheme, which has prompted a surge in wind energy development, is an inefficient way to reduce greenhouse gases because it costs $75 a tonne to avoid the ­creation of carbon compared with other cheaper options.

The Coalition’s policy is to keep the RET, which requires power ­companies to buy 20 per cent of their supply from renew­able generators by 2020.

The Coalition plans to wait for a scheduled review in 2014 before proposing changes.

Mr Taylor’s un­usual decision to push his stance on the RET ahead of that review highlights concerns in some parts of the Liberal Party that despite its trenchant opposition to the carbon tax, there are other parts of the government’s carbon policies that the Coalition has promised it won’t alter.

“I will cop it for that, no doubt,” he said on Monday, moments after killing a tiger snake with a shovel on his property.

“We can be committed to keeping the RET and also committed to restructuring the RET. The RET is an expensive way of reducing emissions, and a restructuring of the RET that takes some of that tension away will save money and achieve exactly the same emissions reductions.”

Mr Taylor is standing for the safe Liberal-held seat of Hume around the city of Goulburn in country NSW at the September election.

His proposal is part of a broader push from regional Coalition MPs to clamp down on wind farms.

The Coalition will use a bill sponsored by crossbench senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, due before the Senate this week, to seek a national study into the health effects of wind farms.

If that fails, the Coalition has flagged introducing a private member’s bill in the House of Representatives, where it hopes to win the support of crossbench MPs.

One of Mr Taylor’s key suggestions would enable power companies to buy credits from offshore generators to satisfy their RET obligations.

“A tonne of carbon from New Guinea is the same from a policy point of view. Frankly, it doesn’t matter – what matters is whether you are going to get the abatement,” he said.

“The idea that Australia offers the cheapest sources of abatement is bizarre. There are many cheaper sources of abatement in other countries. We would be mad not to be looking at that as part of a restructure of the RET.”

Another option would be to broaden the RET to incorporate gas which, although using a fossil fuel, would provide cheaper carbon abatement than replacing coal with wind power, he said.

“The question we have got to ask in restructuring the RET is: ‘How do we want to reduce our carbon emissions?’,” he said.

The Coalition’s taxpayer-funded direct action scheme could be used to help bankroll cheaper power supply options, such as gas.

Mr Taylor said restructuring the RET could save typical households up to $320 a year by 2020.

He said a predicted surge in gas prices would have only a small effect on his forecasts.

The combined estimated increase of the RET by the Climate Change Authority and the NSW price regulator up to 2020 is a maximum of $164.

Mr Taylor said the cost of the RET was likely to rise significantly due to a lack of renewable energy projects. This was particularly the case for wind farms struggling with state planning laws. He said wholesale removal of the RET could pose a sovereign risk to companies.

New research from AGL shows power prices could be 10 per cent lower in 2020 in real terms due to deregulation of retail prices and smart meters.p

Mr Taylor said the RET combined with the carbon price had stifled the transition to cheaper gas fuelled baseload power stations.

“Of course it’s not happening… you have got a price for abating carbon through renewables that is higher than abating through the carbon price through gas or some other means,” he said.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the Coalition’s position hadn’t changed.

“I respect the work and its intentions. We will be abolishing the carbon tax . . . we are committed to the next review of the RET in 2014 and to the 20 per cent target.”

Opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane said: “We support the RET. I am not sure Angus does.”

Two Liberal MPs with many wind farm developments in their electorates, South Australian Rowan Ramsey and Victorian Dan Tehan, backed the party’s official position.

A spokesperson for federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet accused the Coalition of “tissue-paper thin support” for renewable energy and producing inefficient duplicate regulation of wind farms at state and federal level.

“Clearly, there are elements within the Coalition that want to undermine renewable energy investment and the renewable energy target by whatever means possible,” he said.

Both Mr Ramsey and Mr Tehan told The Australian Financial Review that the official timetable for the review was fine but they wanted greater urgency on the inquiry into health.

Mr Hunt said he believed this was the bigger issue in regional areas.

“We have had quite a few representations from a range of people in relation to the issue of wind noise. I don’t know the answer but we do have a duty of care to investigate it.”

Mr Macfarlane said if the Senate amendments failed then the Coalition would seek to get the inquiry legislated through a private in the House of Representatives.

“It really is about establishing the facts around wind farm noise and providing some real time monitoring.”

Mr Macfarlane acknowledged the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) was already working on the issue. But he said the Coalition’s proposal would be more detailed with noise monitoring information made public in a similar way to airports.

“I’m open minded. I have seen nothing that indicates to me that they cause a health impact but at the same time the level of complaints and the style of the complaints are more than just the radical edge but actually common sense people says to me that we need to have a look at it,” he said.

“You talk to people like Dan Tehan who are pretty level headed blokes and people in his electorate who are pretty salt of earth and they say 5 km from the windfarm the walls are just vibrating,” he said.

Current Hume Liberal MP Alby Schultz is one of those who has pushed hard for the inquiry.

Mr Combet’s spokesman said the government was confident that existing work by the NHMRC and state planning systems adequately dealt with concerns, he said.

Pacific Hydro executive manager corporate affairs Andrew Richards said Mr Taylor’s estimates on the costs of the RET were inflated.

“The history shows that every time a target has been placed in front of the renewable energy industry it has been met before time and at lower cost than what was anticipated,” he said.

He also said renewable energy provided a hedge against volatile international fuel prices which were likely to have a far greater impact on local energy prices than green energy schemes.


26 thoughts on “Liberal tilts at expensive wind mills

  1. Great to have politicians who listen to the people who are suffering and have the fortitude to take a stance. The wind farms would not be necessary if enough people in cities, as well as the country invested in solar power.

  2. Thank you Angus , we applaud you and encourage you to keep being strong for the farming communities of Australia who are being destroyed by wind developments . NO ONE has the right to make people ill or force them to leave their farms — with your strength we will hopefully see this situation stopped .

  3. Thank you Angus for taking up the fight. Wind turbines are uselessand expensive.The wind power people know this but refuse to back down. They are getting paid and other people are getting sick. No one cares but a select few. People who oppose W.T’s are made to feel like criminals, the people in favour get a warm fuzzy feeling about saving the earth and won’t listen to rhyme or reason. The turbines are a blight on the landscape and this country should be looking at more reliable energy soujrces. Geo Thermal is a good alternative. Kee4p up the good work Angus, the people in the country need you.
    David & Maureen

  4. Good on you Angus for taking the initiative and having the courage to speak out. Geothermal is the way to go and we are blessed with huge resouces of this non poluting, free and it wil go on for ever. Simple solution why can not the pollies see it?

  5. Maureen Campbell says, Thank God for people like Angus, Thank you sooooooooooooooo much for your comments.
    This was once a beautifull country it is being spolit by greedy mindless people.

  6. Thanks Angus. There are a couple of things, firstly I don’t like my hard earned TAX Dollars being thrown down the gutter on something that you couldn’t sell to anyone that had half a brain, and never if he had an Accountant present. ( Withour our huge Subsities.)That Politicians and Public Servants who are being paid for by us, and have sworn to uphold the Laws of the Land, have sold out some sections of the Community,and committed them to a life of misery [ who,allows the Trashing of our environment,allows the killing of Eagles and if it was anything else being built the environmental movement would be all over it, looking for a Frog with an extra toe and a million other reasons to stop the project ] , in an ill conceived and Fraudulent manner for some dispelled notion of looking after the Planet. the people who failed us by wasting our money, yes our money belonging to the people of Australia, not the Politicians Money, on this Fraudulent scheme ,should be brought to Justice.The cost to our Country is staggering, money that could be spent on something decent, and if you don’t believe me just look at everything that is being cut from decent projects and honerable benefits to people who need it, just to prop up the so called Alternative energy. There is NO COST EFFECTIVE Real ALTERNATIVE ENERGY available. In real life there is nothing suitable on the Horizon.
    I urge everyone out there affected, and my sympathy’s as someone affected, go out to you, and to those who are not affected but have a sense of JUSTICE please lobby all the Federal LIBERAL Politicians to,
    As the current Federal Government has provided the money for these money wasting schemes ,ask them [Liberal Government ] when they get into power, to provide sufficient Funding so that the People whose lives have been ruined , and their loved properties which have been so totaly devalued, can seek through the Courts TRUE AND JUST COMPENSATION, WHICH ANYONE WHO LIVES IN THE CITIES WOULD ALREADY HAVE
    I would urge everyone to look closely at
    Australian Standards. Government and Corporations. AS 8001
    I believe our Salvation, compensation and our retribution lies within these Standards.

  7. These are industrial turbines killing birds, bats, the environment, destroying roads, disturbing and splitting communities apart. Divide and conquer is what the wind industry does with NO regard for anyone except the money the hosts and others make while ruining lives. Thank you Angus Taylor along with the pollies who believe in the farm, and rural hard working communities not in greed.

  8. Isn’t the Government so good at stuffing everything they propose is for the good of the country. There is no good in the divisions that have occurred in our salt of the earth rural communities. Money sure does talk and unfortunately, people that are not well informed are the most likely to support the renewable energy scheme as long as they are either unaffected or are receiving huge cash incentives. Just like the failed insulation scheme which only filled the pockets of very smart operators with little or no regulation. This wind energy scheme is no different. Large multi corporate companies are gaining huge financial incentives thanks to the very generous offer from the Labor Government utilizing our taxes to fund the bogus inefficient scheme. Typical reaction from our incompedent Government that is only intent on pleasing the electorate so that they remain in power. Well think again Labor party, Australians are finally waking up. My only concern is that so much damage is already done and stopping this procession of corporate greed must occur immediately before many our our rural communities are ruined for ever. Good on you Angus, you are a true Australian who believes that we in the bush are worth fighting for. Thankyou

  9. It seems members of the Government are misunderstanding what the NHMRC is doing – they are not doing Health Research, they are reviewing research papers. While politicians dither around the subject more people are facing illness, and the environment is suffering. What has happened to taking a Precautionary approach, providing time for research to be undertaken so everyone knows what is the best way to proceed without causing illness and environmental damage – that is not how the future should be, it is meant to be better not worse.

  10. Angus Taylor is correct about wind farms. The real cost is obfuscated by talking about spreading it across all Australian households but put another way just 2 wind farms proposed in the Mudgee area will cost consumers $5 – $7 billion dollars over the 20 year lifetime of the wind farms. Just imagine that same money spent in the district for roads, hospitals schools and other services!!

  11. Thank you Angus Taylor..Comments on wind turbines and their industry are so gratefully received by those of us who live in close proximity. Living 600 metres from turbines at Cape Bridgewater’s Pacific Hydro energy facility, is tantamount to
    Sonia Trist.. .

  12. Angus Taylor’s stance on wind energy is heartening. Renewable energy includes solar and wave, and some of the billions of tax-payer money spent subsidizing wind turbines could help the development of these technologies. The best performing renewable energy- hydro – has been erased from the renewable debate by the Greens after Bob Brown came to power on the mantra “No Dams”.

  13. Is so nice to have someone like Angus Taylor standing up for anti-wind complex people. These are the most useless machines and I cannot understand why people believe they are good. They cause too many problems and goo much expense.Thanks to Angus Taylor for speaking out against them.

  14. My biggest problem with wind farms has been and always will be a simple proposition: They don’t work.

    In other words they are grossly inefficient and the only tangible economic benefits go to the developers, the farmers who host them and the wind farm companies. People, who believe in renewable energy regardless of cost or benefit, derive a warm fuzzy feeling and cuddle themselves whenever they see an image or pass a turning turbine. However, the rest of us just pay either in ill health, hugely diminished property values (if you live close to one) and larger electricity bills for everyone else.

    Again, I’m against them because they don’t work.

    1. Congratulations Angus, Can someone remind me about this DEMOCRATIC country we live in; i seem to have lost sight of that concept with the way WE are being TOLD how good these things are going to be for US. WHEATHER WE WANT THEM OR NOT !!

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