Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator Doles Out $Billions in Subsidies to Non-Compliant Wind Farms

chloe munro

Chloe Munro: the wind industry couldn’t have asked for better.

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Last week saw some of the most bizarre “fun and games” ever seen before the Australian Senate, as the wind industry’s “friendlies” in the employ of the Government or its Agencies – such as the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), Clean Energy Finance Coporation (CEFC) and the NHMRC – were grilled over a range of regulatory fails, fluffs, mis-steps and good old fashioned administrative chicanery.

To give the first little whiff of what soon became a very stinky perfume, we’ll kick off with CEFC head, Oliver Yates being grilled by Victorian Senator, John Madigan in this video (Hansard follows). You need to study what Yates has to say to appreciate what the CER has to say below:

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Economics Legislation Committee – 25/02/2015 – Estimates – TREASURY PORTFOLIO – Clean Energy Finance Corporation

CHAIR: Senator Madigan.

Senator MADIGAN: Mr Yates, what procedures and processes led to the CEFC’s decision to provide $70 million in debt financing to Pacific Hydro for its Portland wind energy project, enabling Pacific Hydro to construct stage 4 of the project and develop a retail business for renewable energy? Would you be able to enlighten us on who approached the CEFC and requested the financial assistance on behalf of Pacific Hydro, whom it was pitched by and who were involved? I am happy for you to take the question on notice, if necessary.

Mr Yates: For the purposes of time, I am happy to take the question on notice. If you also would like me to answer it, I can, but it is a bit long-winded, if you like, for wont of a better word. The only thing that I can say is that we actually have direct relationships with all of the energy producers; so we actually know them directly. There is no party in the middle, should you say, between us and Pac Hydro; we deal directly with the company in relation to any of their financing needs.

Senator MADIGAN: If you can take that on notice, I would appreciate it. Is it your understanding that Pacific Hydro were relying on income from renewable energy certificates created by earlier stages of the Portland project, including the Cape Bridgewater wind farm, in order to secure the finance that it eventually obtained from the CEFC?

Mr Yates: The project loan is secured against all of the assets, including a long-term PPA from Pac Hydro. So the renewable energy certificates that may be relating to the project are one part of the overall security; they are not the only security which the CEFC looks at. Obviously, if there were no renewable energy certificates, it would affect the income of that project and then we would have to rely more closely on the overall PPA that Pacific Hydro itself has provided to support the project.

Senator MADIGAN: Recent acoustic investigation undertaken at stage 2 of Pacific Hydro’s Portland project revealed a correlation or a trend between the occurrence of specific infrasound frequency that occurred at various phases of operation at the Cape Bridgewater power generation facility and the residents’ reports of adverse sensation and health effects. This could have ramifications under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. If so, would the facility be in breach of conditions relating to its financial arrangements and contractual obligations with the CEFC?

Mr Yates: All projects are required to comply with the law. Currently it is dependent upon whatever planning permits or requirements are there at that site. If the project fails to meet its compliance obligations, there is typically a right of termination of the funding requirements under the facilities. We do expect people who are borrowing from any financial institution – it is common, whether you are public or private – to use the money in a way which is used for lawful purposes and, if it is not used for lawful purposes, it is unlikely that the money would be available for very long; it would typically be an event of default.

Senator MADIGAN: Did the CEFC make sure that it had appropriate evidence to satisfy that Portland Wind Energy Project’s earlier wind farms had met all conditions of planning permit and approval requirements before providing the $70 million in debt financing to Pacific Hydro for the refinancing of these stages and stage 4? Whose money is at risk here if these projects have not met their planning permit conditions?

Mr Yates: In relation to the first question, there is an extensive due diligence process that we go through. Obviously, every lender does that, because you do not want to lend to a project which is in default. That relies upon detailed legal due diligence and specialist due diligence in relation to any project that we lend to. With regard to exposure to any project which is in breach of environmental obligations, it depends upon the security arrangements underlying the loan. Obviously, the person who owns the project, who has equity, would be very exposed to a problem like that. Obviously, if they have then lost all of their money and gone broke, the lender would then step in and own the project and would have to rectify that problem for the purposes of trying to create recovery. So you go through a tiering of risk if a project runs into problems. But, primarily, managing that type of problem relates to the operator of the project and the operator of the project is Pacific Hydro at this stage.

Senator MADIGAN: When any person or any organisation comes to the CEFC to obtain funding and they claim that they meet environmental planning regulations, does the CEFC accept a tick-and-flick box or do you check every claim diligently?

Mr Yates: We have external lawyers that work with us on transactions.

Senator MADIGAN: Sorry?

Mr Yates: We require external law opinions as well, from external law counsel, who will actually go through and check to make sure that any of those items or representations that the company has made are actually legitimate. Obviously, you do expect companies to make valid representations, but it is not for us to take those representations without due inquiry, to check the validity of whether those representations are actually true. We do the same due diligence we would do with any project, whether it be in the commercial sector or in the private sector, as we look at representations, and we try to analyse those ones to avoid any possible risk. You are right: if those representations are wrong, the project can fail.

Senator MADIGAN: This is my final question, Chair: the other day I asked a question of the Clean Energy Regulator. I asked whether they have an unambiguous statement from the Victorian Minister for Planning as to whether the facility was compliant or non-compliant, and they said they have neither.

Mr Yates: Yes.

Senator MADIGAN: They have neither; so, in fact, it is in the demilitarised zone – no-man’s land. It is neither compliant nor non-compliant. But you lend money on a thing that they have told me is neither compliant nor non-compliant. There is not a definitive statement as to compliance.

Mr Yates: I think the question goes to legality. The project is legally entitled to operate. I agree with you: it is a ridiculous world where people cannot get clarity in relation to this. This is a planning failure, in my view, and a minister, a government or a responsible entity need to actually draw a line and say whether it is compliant or non-compliant.

Senator Cormann: Obviously that has implications for the risk profile for the project, if I might say so.

Senator MADIGAN: Wouldn’t you say, Mr Yates, that a project that has neither a definitive statement of compliance nor noncompliance exposes the CEFC to greater risk? But you are still extending a loan for it.

Mr Yates: The answer is that it is a situation that is occurring right across Victoria. Unfortunately, there are numerous wind farms in Victoria where you cannot get clarity.

Senator MADIGAN: But you still lend money to them; is that right?

Mr Yates: At the moment we have been trying to encourage there to be some clarity in relation to this matter. We are certainly not looking too hard in Victoria at the moment, because there is continued non-clarity. But in relation to other states, other states have planning rules that are in a better position.

Hansard 25/02/2015

When Oliver Yates talks about the risk of default by the wind power outfits it’s lent to, and the CEFC’s exposure to financial loss as a result, it’s the Australian taxpayer that will pick up the tab, when, for example, the likes of Pac Hydro go bust – not an unlikely event (see our post here).

When commercial banks stopped lending for new wind farm projects 18 months ago, the CEFC jumped in and lent hundreds of $millions: money borrowed by the government; at taxpayers’ expense and at taxpayers’ risk (see our posts here and here).

For that reason, the Coalition has been itching to scrap the CEFC (see our post here).

Oliver Yates would, of course, need to find a new job if the CEFC does get the chop.

A few “mis-steps” by Oliver over lending to non-compliant wind farms would provide the Government with another very good reason to shut the CEFC lending rort down. Hence Ollie’s little trip to “bizarro” world where, apparently, a wind farm is neither compliant, nor non-compliant, all at the same time.

The odour left by Yate’s performance was, almost, sweet by comparison with what followed; as Chloe Munro and her team from the CER copped a little more of Senator Madigan on the front foot. The CER’s Senate shenanigans soon left the room smelling like a foundry worker’s armpit.

Hansard follows the video of John Madigan. We then pick up video of WA Senator, Chris Back turning up the heat on the CER’s failure to chop the non-compliant Gullen Range wind farm’s “entitlement” to be accredited (Hansard follows that video).

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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee – 23/02/2015 – Estimates – ENVIRONMENT PORTFOLIO – Clean Energy Regulator [17:04]

CHAIR: I welcome officers from the Clean Energy Regulator. Welcome, Ms Munro. Before we go to questions, I invite you to make a short opening statement.

Ms Munro: No, I will not take up that opportunity. Thank you.

Senator MADIGAN: Thank you for your attendance. The CER’s power to accredit is set out in regulation 4 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001, ‘Eligibility for accreditation’. It states:

For paragraph 14(2)(b) of the Act … the power station must be operated in accordance with any relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government planning and approval requirements.

Before the CER can decide whether a power station is eligible, it must first determine what the power station is. Accordingly, section D of the application for accreditation requires applicants to:

Specify the components of the electricity generation system that you consider to be a single power station.

The applicants on behalf of the Waubra wind farm define the power station as comprising 128 wind turbine generators, five collector substations – and the list goes on. The Clean Energy Regulator accredited the Waubra wind farm on 10 March 2009, just after the first turbines started operating but four months before the facility was constructed and fully operational. How did the Clean Energy Regulator come to form the view that the Waubra wind farm was eligible for accreditation whilst it was still a construction site and not the complete single power station described in section D of the application?

Ms Munro: Thank you for that question. Before I proceed to answer it at least in part, I would like to acknowledge that there is now a Senate committee, which you are on: the Select Committee on Wind Turbines, which is scheduled to report in June 2015. We are just finalising our submission to that committee, which will go to, amongst other things, our procedures for accreditation and also for suspension, which you have asked us about on previous occasions. I look forward to having the opportunity to appear before that committee, and we can discuss some of those matters there, which I think will be helpful.

I would also note that we have answered in excess of 40 questions on notice regarding these matters, and we always attempt to answer those questions as fully as we can and in the context of what the law provides for and our interpretation of that law.

Going to that question of the accreditation process, it is right that the legislation was designed to enable a power station to be accredited at the point at which it began generating electricity, even though the commissioning of that is sequential. So the issue that we are observing is whether that power station has met the local planning requirements, which are essentially to have the appropriate approvals in place, and that is the basis on which we determine that the power station is being operated in accordance with the requirements at the time. I would draw a distinction between that and the provisions that are made on which we have powers under certain circumstances to suspend accreditation.

I am not sure if I can expand any more on that, but I will perhaps just turn to Mr Williamson, who has line accountability for this, to see if he can enlighten you further on that process by which we determine what the power station is. Then accreditation happens, as I say, at the point at which it begins generating electricity and it is metered, which is one of the other requirements. But, as you observe, it is not necessarily fully completed at the time.

Mr Williamson: As Ms Munro has stated, it is our view of the law that the accreditation decision can be made around the time of first generation. As you have outlined, Senator, it can sometimes be, for a wind farm, about 12 months from the first commissioning and generation till final commissioning. Our interpretation of regulation 4 is that, as Ms Munro says, we need to make sure that they have all necessary approvals in place and that it would appear that those approvals can be complied with. But it is not uncommon for the concerns that have been raised about wind farms not necessarily to emerge until after full commissioning.

Senator MADIGAN: What I am trying to understand here is that I believe that the application for accreditation was received by the CER on 14 January 2009 and there was a photo attached showing a substation, 10 turbines and a further five sites at various stages of construction. So you had 10 wind turbines standing up, you had another five sites at various stages of constructions and you had one substation, but, in the application for accreditation, it spoke about 128 turbines, five substations and a switching station. You have accredited something that is roughly 12 per cent built. You have accredited something that is not even one-eighth of the way there.

Mr Williamson: It is our view that we get one chance to accredit, that they can put forward all the components that are intended and that the accreditation is intended to happen around the first point of generation. I certainly understand what you are suggesting, and, as Ms Munro says, I think these matters might be best explored in the Senate select committee as to whether or not the law could be improved.

Senator MADIGAN: If the power station did not exist at the time it was accredited, how did the CER satisfy itself it was, not might be, operated in accordance with any relevant Commonwealth, state or territory or local government planning and approval requirements?

Ms Munro: If I can intervene on this, perhaps Mr Williams can then go to the process. The power station did exist. The accreditation provides for the accreditation of the whole power station. The way power stations are designed is that all of those elements, although they are built sequentially and are commissioned sequentially, combine to create the power station. In particular, those components are metered as well, so there is one power station that will eventually be fully operational and will generate electricity which is metered at one point. That is the background to why there is a single point of accreditation. I can only reiterate that we and our predecessor organisation, the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, right from the start of the introduction of the legislation and the way that it has been operated, allowed that accreditation to happen at the point at which the power station starts to generate electricity. That is the point where it is actually operating as a power station.

You are absolutely correct: it is not necessarily the full power station – and this is an issue that clearly has also come up again in the context of Cullerin Range. But, nevertheless, it is operating as a power station. It has all the consents for that full scope of the power station as defined. All of those components are covered by the appropriate consents and, therefore, they are in compliance with the requirements to have those consents in order to, if you like, continue with the construction. That is the point at which accreditation occurs, to enable the power station to claim renewable energy certificates for the electricity that it is now generating – even though, of course, it is only from a part of what will ultimately operate. That is a very normal way to proceed, not just for power stations but for many other major facilities. They are only commercial sequentially over a period of time.

Mr Williamson: I think Ms Munro has outlined that fairly thoroughly. We have a thorough look at all the approvals. We stay in touch with the states and territories to understand the full suite and we make sure that the approvals that the company has are for the full scope of the proposed power station that is to be accredited. We also look at whether there is any available information that suggests that anyone is suggesting that there is any noncompliance before we make that decision. But you are probably aware that, even if we did wait to the point you suggested, with these things, in terms of planning conditions, there are not normally compliant statements issued by the various state and territory regulators anyway.

Senator MADIGAN: The Waubra wind farm’s conditionally issued planning permission included the post-construction approval requirement of noise compliance. Of course, compliance with this approval requirement could not be determined by the state authority until the 128-turbine power station was complete and operating. Doesn’t this, too, suggest that the CER accredited Waubra wind farm without appropriate regard to the satisfaction of regulation 4 in that the power station must be operated in accordance with any relevant Commonwealth, state, territory or local government planning and approval requirements?

Ms Munro: I can only reiterate what I have already said: our reading of operation approval with the relevant requirements is that they have the relevant consent at the time in which they construct the power stations – which, indeed, they had. Specifically with respect to Waubra, it is also the case that, at the time of the accreditation, there was no suggestion that they were not operating in compliance. I can certainly turn to my General Counsel to, perhaps, explain the niceties of that interpretation more carefully.

Mr Purvis-Smith: There are two things that we look at in order to do that assessment. As has been explained, they are: whether the necessary approvals are in place; then we look for any reason which would suggest that they cannot operate in accordance with those approvals. We cannot crystal ball as to whether they will always comply. That is an impossible task. But we can look to see whether there is any clear reason why they could not, based on information we have at that time, meet those approvals.

Senator MADIGAN: The CER’s accreditation explanatory notes instruct applicants to provide evidence of all approvals and conditions of approval, and submit them with their application for accreditation. In addition to regulation 4, the act reinforces in 13(2)(a) that the application must be made in a form and manner required by the regulator. Again in 14(2)(b), it reinforces that a power station is eligible for accreditation if the power station satisfies any prescribed requirements. It is clear that the test for eligibility is to be determined as a matter of present fact. Where does the legislation give the CER the discretion to disregard any prescribed requirements? Where is the CER given authority to accredit a power station before its eligibility can be proven or properly determined?

Ms Munro: I think we find once again that you are placing a construction on the wording of the legislation that we do not. We certainly would not accept the assertions that you make in that question that we are disregarding or setting aside the requirements of the law. In fact, quite the contrary, we exist only to administer the law. Our decisions are reviewable and subject to review in the courts. So we take very seriously the requirements to apply the law with without fear or favour. I am not sure how well we will be able to answer that question given that it is based on a premise which we do not actually agree with. However, again, I will turn to Mr Williamson. I think he feels he can elucidate that.

Mr Williamson: We have, again, contacted the relevant Victorian planning department very recently. They have still stated that neither they nor their minister have reached a landing on whether Waubra is compliant. The logical extension of what you are suggesting is: if we waited to make an accreditation decision until there was an absolute rolled gold view from the state regulator that it was compliant, we still would not have Waubra accredited today, and we would have, clearly, appeals on foot well before now. I think that kind of illustrates it. We simply have to make the decision at the time of the accreditation as we believe the act requires, with the best information. We cannot simply hold it in abeyance for years until there is some emphatic opinion on compliance from a state regulator.

Senator MADIGAN: Will the CER conduct an audit of all LRET power stations to satisfy itself that no other accreditations were possibly granted prematurely, and shouldn’t any power stations discovered to have been accredited before completion, and/or without submitting to the CER evidence of all required approvals, be suspended until eligibility can properly be determined? My point is that, from what you just told me in answer to the previous question, you said that you still have not got anything from the state government that says it is compliant. Is that right?

Ms Munro: I think more to the point is that it has not been established that it is not compliant, so I think you are asking us to apply tests which cannot in fact be applied. As I have discussed with my colleagues, this really becomes quite an important philosophical point, which is about what can be proved and what cannot. In this case, clearly we would be able to establish or, more likely, to rely on the relevant regulator having established, that non-compliance occurred. That is a test that we certainly do apply and consider carefully. We do not necessarily have to rely on the findings of a court of law; there might be other evidence which established noncompliance that was sufficiently robust that we could find that on reasonable grounds. However, the test of ‘is it continuing compliant?’ is not something that can be applied, I think, in the sense that you would wish.

Going to your question about the audit – again, I think it is based on a foundation with which we do not agree. But just to go back, each power station is accredited through a process, which Mr Williamson has outlined, and we do undertake that process at the point at which the power station applies, which is generally at the point at which it starts to generate electricity – it is then a functioning power station. It is not necessarily fully built, and there certainly are power stations which were not fully built – and, as I mentioned, Gullen Range is obviously one which is currently under investigation for that very reason. Nevertheless, we do not infer from that that those power stations were accredited prematurely, which I think was the thrust of that question. They were accredited properly, with proper scrutiny that they had the correct approvals at the time, that the power station was operating, the part of the power station that was built and functioning was operating according to requirements which include things like metering requirements and so forth. That is all done at the time, and has been done for every power station that we have accredited. So I do not think there is any value to us reviewing all of those, because we have been consistent in the way that we have applied those processes.

The later question of whether, having been accredited, circumstances change in the course of further construction of a power station, is certainly a reasonable question to ask, and is not one that can be addressed through the accreditation provisions. It could be addressed through the suspension provisions, and we have had some separate discussions around that. As I say, these are matters which we will air further in the submission that we are going to make shortly to the Senate inquiry on that matter, so I am certainly happy to resume that conversation in that setting.

Senator MADIGAN: Mr Williamson, does the CER have a definitive statement from the Victorian minister for planning for compliance or noncompliance of the Waubra wind farm – yes or no?

Mr Williamson: There is no definitive statement from the Victorian government –

Senator MADIGAN: There is no definitive statement. So, in effect, it is in the demilitarised zone of no-man’s-land – it is neither noncompliant or compliant. Is that what you are telling me? You have got no definitive statement from the minister?

Mr Williamson: They have still not made a definitive statement, that is correct.

Senator MADIGAN: Six years on. Thank you, Chair.

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Senator BACK: I have a couple of other questions in that same context that I will put on notice. But very briefly I want to go for one quick moment to the Gullen Range wind farm. I want to take you to some answers received on 27 November last year to questions on notice asked at last year’s supplementary budget estimates. I refer to answers 201 and 202. In those instances, I will quote the statements made, and perhaps if I am wrong you can correct me:

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has not, to date, alleged that this wind farm is breaching or contravening state law.

I then want to take you to a statement from the New South Wales department of planning’s media release of 10 October 2004, about six weeks earlier, in which the department stated:

… the Department shares the local community’s opinion that the new positions of these nine turbines –

at Gullen Range –

are inconsistent with the conditions of consent …

…   …   …

“As such, the Department is pursuing action on the nine turbines, which are considered to be in breach due to the significant departure from the approved location.

You may recall this is an installation where a number of turbines were placed in the wrong positions against the approval from the New South Wales department. My questions to you are: firstly, how many LGCs for that wind farm has the Clean Energy Regulator validated? Secondly, armed with the knowledge that in fact some six weeks before you responded to the questions asked in estimates in October last year, the state department had already publicly stated that the wind farm was not in compliance with its conditions of approval.

Ms Munro: First of all, I would say we do address this matter in our submission to the Senate inquiry into wind farms, so we hope to be able to have that perhaps more detailed discussion of the Gullen Range case with you then. The sequence of events, since both that media release and our response to your question and so on, has moved on. You will be aware, I am sure, of the fact sheet that was released by the New South Wales department in December 2014, which I think somewhat clarifies their position. Again, they, at the time, were concerned that certain of those towers might not have been in compliance, and they are still investigating that question. They did not actually, in their media release, assert that they were not. We discussed the matter with them between that media release and when we responded to your question.

So I think that everything has moved on somewhat in terms of their compliance and enforcement and, indeed, in our investigation that is afoot in terms of the status of those later turbines, where there is some question about whether or not their location is compliant with the conditions in the permit. That is certainly a matter that is being contested through that New South Wales process. We acknowledge that that has not been determined, but we also are of the view that we do not have reasonable grounds at the moment, based on how that is proceeding, to suspend accreditation. Therefore, we have been validating certificates in the meantime. Again, that is a matter that we perhaps might touch on further through the Senate inquiry. Mr Williamson has the numbers, which I am sure he will be able to provide to you.

Mr Williamson: Goldwind, for the Gullen Range Wind Farm, has received a total of 210,546 LGCs so far. Ms Munro has referred you to the recent statement from New South Wales planning. While you are correct that New South Wales planning has said all along that it believes that some turbines are in the wrong location, that is not the same as them alleging that there has been a contravention of state law. Throughout our investigation, and throughout this matter, we have been in touch with them. As Ms Munro refers to, their latest statement is quite clear that there appears to be genuine dispute, and they are not moving to full notices until the current appeal that is on foot in the Land and Environment Court is heard.

Senator BACK: I will ask you to take this on notice or answer when you appear before the select committee. I am now referring to the New South Wales Planning and Assessment Commission’s refusal to modify the existing approval from GRWF, which is dated in October last year. I note that that refusal was made according to section 75W of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act in New South Wales, and that they had applied for a modification to their planning consent retrospectively, accepting that the turbines were built and are generating in breach of their planning permit. Once constructed in the wrong locations, I put to you that they could not operate in accordance with their planning permit, and, therefore, that the farm was improperly accredited by you, and that the Clean Energy Regulator is validating LGCs on behalf the federal government effectively against its own laws. I will invite you either now or, if time does not permit, on notice to respond.

CHAIR: We really are running out of time, so if you wanted to quickly make reference to the answer and if you could take the rest on notice that would be very helpful.

Ms Munro: There are a couple of points, because in the course of that long question there were a number of assertions that were made that were not correct. In particular, it is my understanding that Gullen Range Wind Farm, in seeking the amendments, has never accepted that it was in breach – these words are important in a legal term – but it did want to have the conditions rectified. For legal reasons, which I think that we have rehearsed a number of times, we do not accept that we have been improperly validating certificates or that we are acting in a way which does not fulfil, to the letter, the law which we are obliged to administer. So I just want to put that on record for the committee. I am certainly very happy to answer that question more extensively through questions on notice and, indeed, at the select committee.

Hansard 23/02/2015

sir humphrey

Chloe and team, a very fine performance, indeed. In the circumstances, I couldn’t have said any less by saying any more, if I had said it myself.

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Chloe Munro and her gang there proving that bureaucratic ducking and weaving is an art all in itself; with an effort that would have met with glowing approval from Sir Humphrey.

So why is Munro so slimy and slippery when subjected to pointed questioning about her decisions to approve wind farms to receive $billions in Renewable Energy Certificates – a Federal Tax on all Australian electricity consumers – BEFORE the “power station” in question even exists?

Chloe Munro’s links to the wind industry are thicker than treacle – she lobbed up as a director of Tasmanian wind power outfit, Hydro Tasmania back in 2010 – that’s the crowd that were busted for vote rigging, among other skulduggery, in their efforts to spear 600 giant fans into King Island in Bass Strait (see our post here).

So – with Chloe having previously supped from the same subsidy trough that’s she now in charge of – wind power outfits looking for someone to push their barrow couldn’t have done any better.

Let’s have a look at the topic being pursued by John Madigan: the CER’s power to accredit wind power outfits to receive RECs.

Wind farms are defined as “power stations” under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000; and the CER’s power to accredit them to receive RECs appears in section 14(2):

A power station is eligible for accreditation if:

(b) the power station satisfies any prescribed requirements.

For that section the “prescribed requirements” appear in the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 and Regulation 4(1)(c):

Eligibility for accreditation

(1) For paragraph 14(2)(b) of the Act:

(c) the power station must be operated in accordance with any relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government planning and approval requirements.

Pretty simple language there – so it’s hard to see why Chloe and her gang were playing Humpty Dumpty with it?

From the clear wording of the Act and Reg 4(1)(c) a power station is NOT eligible to be accredited to receive RECs until that regulation is satisfied, as a matter of present fact.

The obvious retort to Chloe’s fluffing is that unless and until the power station is COMPLETED it CANNOT be “operated”. Moreover, until it is fully operational, there can be NO evidence to establish that it is being “operated in accordance with [its] … planning and approval requirements”.

To STT it looks like there have been a raft of wind farms accredited to receive RECs (worth hundreds of $millions) in circumstances where the CER had no lawful power to do so.

No wonder Chloe and her team of Sir Humphrey Applebys were so keen to avoid Senator Madigan’s probing questions, with an effort to cut, run and leave it all for another day.

Next stop: a Royal Commission.

royal commission 2004Bushfires-420x0

STT can’t wait to see the CER’s Sir Humphrys front a Royal Commission, where the bureau-speak rubber hits the cold, hard forensic road.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. No Turbines says:

    And what about the company representative who declares that the company has been operating in accordance with all relevant planning and approval requirements? Sounds like an illegal declaration to me. Windy Hill Wind Farm was required of its council permit to do “periodic noise monitoring” but did not do ANY monitoring between initial compliance testing in 2000 and 2011. Whilst under investigation for breaches of noise permit conditions from 2011 to 2013, the company representative still declared that the company had been operating in accordance with all planning and approval requirements. Sounds like PAYBACK time! And the CER lets the windies get away with this?

  2. What a mind numbing stream of meaningless gobbledegook we hear from the mouths of these overpaid bureaucrats.

    Senator Madigan sums up this bureaucratic pass-the-parcel with a couple of well chosen words about the continuing non-compliance of the Waubra wind farm:

    “Six years on. Thank you”

    One wonders how long the even the first unit of the Loy Yang power station in the Latrobe Valley would have been be allowed to operate had it failed to comply with any of its continuously monitored EPA licence, emission limits. I’m bloody sure it would not have been six years.

  3. Thank you for your clarity STT.

    No amount of Wind is Free Green Deodorant (*with rorted subsidy essential oil) as rolled out by the Canberra Sir Humphrys is covering up the underlying stench of corruption emanating from the armpits of this industry’s sweaty ‘public servant’ team.

    They need a good scrubbing and freshening by a Royal Commission.

  4. Pedagogy of the Oppressed says:

    Bring on the Royal Commission into the Wind Scam and hold the liars and their benefactors to account, and protect the wealth, health and well-being of the citizens of Australia.

  5. The black smith from VIC, Senator Madigan has got his forge glowing a very bright red in the senate inquiry into these corrupt windweasel grubs, and he has them in a position where they don’t know where they are. We know that they are doomed.

    Good on you Senator Madigan, we need more people like you in Canberra to get this country going again. We have a good PM, but we need more pollies to back him. I know you are a DLP senator John Madigan, but we all love Australia. The forge does shape steel with a good black smith, and we have one. I just wish you you were in QLD.

  6. Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

    That was some performance from Munro and Co.

    Lewis Carroll and his seminal work of the absurd would appear to be a serious reference piece for these clowns.

    But, to compare Alice and her looking glass to these servants of the public, would be to underestimate their cunning.

    It is tragic that such legislation was written and passed and then deliberately used to enable such corruption, and although perhaps not illegal,in reality just the same.

    Although, from a legal perspective, these people may have done nothing wrong, it is a blindingly obvious contention that they have, at best no sense of right and wrong, and live in a moral and ethical vacuum.

    The bottom line is this. The whole sorry tale is tragic.
    What has happened to this country?

  7. Jim Hutson. says:

    I would like to clear up just a small error. There were 73 Wind turbines planted on the Gullen Range. Sixty nine of these were placed in positions other than authorized by the Land and Environment Court. The Planning and Assessment Commission agreed. The NSW Planning department chose, for whatever reason, to only challenge nine. This leaves a huge question mark as to WHY ONLY NINE?

  8. Melissa Ware says:

    Well, well, well how highly employable, talented people squirm, fail to make eye contact and fail to respond with minimal intelligence and honesty to legitimate questions regarding their actions and responsibilities. Thanks STT for the pleasure of viewing the ‘fun and games’. These people have blinded themselves so much they deceive themselves into thinking they are not accountable. Isn’t that akin to being pathological liars and cheats or the corporate equivalent?

    The law is the law and taxpayers have every right to have these questions asked in Parliament and get a serious and honest response. Corporations self interpreting the law to suit is unacceptable. Handing out full sums of money to an uncompleted wind farm is wrong. Using taxpayer money to fund and profit wind farms that are not compliant is wrong.

    Causing so much suffering to so many people is wrong.

    Stage 4 of the PWEP may well have received approval and profited from the CER before all the turbines were constructed just as Waubra. Blaming the previous organisation or other departments etc. is also unacceptable and irresponsible. So much waffle and squirming and these are the ‘regulators’ entrusted with so much money and power. What a nightmare. Will the submissions be interesting or more fun and games or both….. perhaps more waffle, finger pointing… outsourcing…. deflecting. No taxpayer should have to foot this monstrous bill for a monstrous energy system which does not work and has no benefit for rural Australians.

    Time to own up, clean up, pay up and get out.

    • Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

      Yes Melissa, it is how you say.

      Did you notice how a couple of times Munro was losing patience with the Blacksmith and was on the cusp of telling him where to get off?

      In my experience these highly paid and powerful public servants are intolerant of being questioned by anyone other than their political masters, and I bet those within the public service believe they know just who really holds the reigns of power

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