The Abbott government has been asked to consider “grandfathering” a proposed $150 million West Coast wind farm under the existing renewable energy target.
Ongoing political uncertainty about the RET and falling energy prices have the Granville Harbour wind farm – which proponents say would create 200 construction jobs – on a knife edge.
Westcoast Wind director Alex Simpson yesterday said the company had spoken to Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley about “grandfathering” the project. That would allow it to be built under existing RET conditions regardless of what, if any, changes ended up being made in Canberra.
Mr Whiteley said he was very supportive of the project and renewable energy projects in general.
“I have personally spruiked the project to the Minister for Industry and the Minister for the Environment,” he said.
“The government is committed to supporting a sustainable renewable energy sector with an amended renewable energy target that will ensure long-term certainty for the renewables sector – including larger-scale projects such as the Westcoast Wind project – so it can continue to contribute to Australia’s diverse energy mix.”
According to the proponents, the project would be endangered if the government found enough Senate support to cut the RET to its desired level, or under a proposal from Tasmanian independent Senator Jacqui Lambie that would provide advantages for Tasmania and a less severe cut to the target.
Mr Simpson said the Lambie plan would kill most proposed wind projects in Australia, although Granville had exceptional project economics.
The Advocate reported on December 2 the proponents had been seeking a meeting with Senator Lambie since August.
That still had not happened as of yesterday, Mr Simpson said.
A spokesman yesterday said Senator Lambie would meet Westcoast Wind in the New Year.
Mr Simpson said banks were “jittery” about lending to renewables projects because of falling energy prices.
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