New South Wales politicians are up in arms over the ACT Government’s plan to source renewable energy from wind farms in the capital region.
The ACT Government wants to source 200 megawats of power from wind farms in surrounding NSW to power 80,000 Canberra homes by 2020.
It is part of the Government’s target of generating 90 per cent of Canberra’s energy from renewable sources within the next six years.
But Member for Monaro John Barilaro, Member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson, Member for Goulburn Pru Goward, and Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor say wind farms are deeply unpopular in their communities.
They have accused the ACT Government of an over-reliance on NSW-generated wind energy.
“Wind farms are very divisive, in every community they’ve ever been,” Ms Goward said.
“Communities like Tarago and Yass, and everywhere in between, hate them, they cause enormous dissent.”
Goulburn Mayor Geoff Kettle says the ACT Government should build turbines within the Territory.
“If the ACT want 90 per cent renewable energy why not put some wind farms in the ACT,” he said.
“It’s very very great to want to go down this track but for me the debate is still out and the jury is still out on wind farms.
“There’s a lot of community angst. I don’t think that these wind farms consult enough.”
Mr Taylor agrees and says it is no surprise the ACT Government wants to use wind turbines over the border.
“It’s published a map with where it’s proposing those developments might be, every one of them is beyond its borders,” he said.
“As we look around we see high mountains, we know these are windy areas, there are opportunities to build them [within the ACT].
“If they are to pursue flawed policies then they should be pursued within the ACT.”
‘Not possible’ to build viable wind farms within ACT borders
However ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says it is not possible for the Territory to build wind farms inside its borders.
“If we could [build wind farms] we would,” she said.
“All of the analysis to date is that we don’t have enough land that would be commercially viable for a wind farm.
“But we sit within a region that has perhaps got the best opportunity for wind generation in the country.”
Ms Gallagher says the protesting NSW politicians should raise their gripes with state planning authorities.
“These wind farms have been approved under their planning laws,” she said.
“They have gone through all of the processes required under law in order to get approval to allow customers, which may be the ACT, to come in and seek business there.
“So I don’t think they are pointing their campaign in the right direction.”
She also rejected claims the proposed renewable energy target will make electricity so expensive in the ACT no one will be able to afford it.