December 27, 2013

Renewable review gives horse breeder hope

The Australian | December 27, 2013 |

Erwin Thaller’s livelihood – breeding internationally renowned horses – hinges on the Abbott government’s review of the renewable energy target.

A proposed 42-turbine wind farm that will hem in his hilltop property near South Australia’s Barossa Valley wine region has won state government approval, but the company behind it won’t proceed until the Coalition reviews the RET next year, The Australian reports.

If the Pacific Hydro project goes ahead, Thaller believes he will have no choice but to sell his “cutting” horses – bred for rodeo competitions where riders try to separate a cow from a herd – rather than subject them to the low-level noise caused by the turbines.

The flickering of sunlight due to the huge arms on each turbine also worries the 60-year-old, who says he would be unable to sell the property he has owned for about 40 years and relocate elsewhere because of an expected drop in property values.

The sale price of a horse ranges from $8000 to $80,000 and Thaller, who with wife Leonie raised six children at the Wyandah Paint & Quarter Horse Stud, has 40 horses in his paddocks at any given time.

“As an animal lover and a horseman, it doesn’t sit comfortably with me to put my horses through it,” he says.

“I can’t afford to sell the place, because who would buy it? It kind of shuts everything down for me – it robs you of that choice.”

But he does have some cause for optimism, with Tony Abbott already indicating that next year’s review of the RET would examine the “pretty significant price pressures” it has put on electricity.

“If this carbon tax goes and these RETs go down, that’s like music to my ears,” Thaller says.

“That shows how much they (wind farm operators) care about renewable energy or saving the planet, because they won’t go ahead with it.

“What will happen is that there’ll be no money in it for them.”

The electricity industry is already preparing for widespread changes to the scheme.

The RET mandates that 20 per cent of electricity generation will be from renewable sources by 2020. A fall would probably result in less investment in wind farms and other forms of renewable energy.

Pacific Hydro says the feasibility of the $240 million project would be “directly affected by the outcome of the scheduled review”.

“We’ll continue to work on contractual arrangements and that sort of thing, leading up to and during the RET review,” a spokesman said.

Read more at The Australian.

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