Friday, 2 November 2012

South Australia’s wind farm rules strike the right balance

Clean Energy Council
18 Oct 2012

Changes to South Australia's policy on wind farms announced today strike the right balance between making sure the community's concerns are heard and supporting this important industry, according to the Clean Energy Council. Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh said South Australia had been a renewable energy pioneer, with the state's wind farms delivering just under a quarter of its power over the last year at a very low cost to consumers.

"These latest amendments to the planning framework, announced today by Planning Minister John Rau, follow a year-long trial and are ultimately a good news story for jobs, investment and cleaner sources of energy in South Australia", Mr Marsh said. "South Australia should be proud that it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 27% over the last five years, while generating approximately $1.8 billion worth of investment for local communities and 840 new jobs, thanks to wind power.

"This announcement shows that the government recognises the value of wind power to South Australia's economy, but that development needs to be sustainable for the communities involved-an idea we strongly support", he said.

South Australia has set a target of sourcing 33% of its power from renewable energy by 2020. Wind farms are currently among the lowest cost forms of renewable energy that can be rolled out on a large scale and are expected to play a major role in meeting this target. The wind farm rules will set a minimum setback distance of 1km between houses and turbines and a 2km distance from townships. Third party appeals can be triggered when turbines are within 2km of houses.

Mr Marsh said wind power added less than 2% to the cost of power bills and in the last financial year had produced more power than coal in the state for the first time. "Locking in the rules for wind farms will help investors, who need to know that the policy parameters will remain consistent. "All this wind is putting South Australia well ahead of the curve on Australia's 20% Renewable Energy Target, and helping to provide farmers and local businesses in regional areas with extra income".