Electricity generator Verve has axed its renewable energy unit and shelved one of WA’s biggest wind farms amid growing uncertainty about green power initiatives in Australia.
The State-owned utility confirmed its so-called sustainable development team was disbanded and 15 people would lose their jobs or be switched to other parts of the business.
The decision comes as Verve strives to meet Energy Minister Mike Nahan’s push for savings across the energy sector and his desire for the public corporation not to build new power plants.
Doubt also looms over the entire renewable energy industry.
The Federal Government has launched a review of the renewable energy target for 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity to be sourced from green projects by 2020.
It also wants to scrap a host of bodies established under the former Labor government’s carbon tax laws, including the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which lent public money to renewable energy projects.
The situation is understood to have weighed on Verve’s decision to effectively abandon a proposed $600 million wind farm in the Mid West that would have been one of the State’s biggest.
The Warradarge wind farm would have had up to 100 turbines 152m high that were projected to power 140,000 homes.
However Verve, which has developed several green energy projects, is understood to have put on hold Warradarge given it had hoped to tap the CEFC for a significant portion of its cost.
WA shadow energy minister Bill Johnston said Labor supported the renewable energy target and the Government needed to explain its position.
The Conservation Council of WA expressed dismay at Verve’s decision, saying it contradicted public appetite for renewable energy. “We have a recipe for significant community backlash against the climate and energy policies and actions of the WA Government,” spokesman Cameron Poustie said.
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