WA’s soaring State debt could take a $1 billion hit as a result of the rush to build wind, solar and wave farms under the Federal Government’s green energy target, according to the State Opposition.
Expectations are rising that Synergy wants to develop what would be WA’s biggest wind farm in a bid to meet its renewable energy target obligations.
Under the target, energy providers such as Synergy are required to source 23 per cent of their generation needs from renewable projects such as wind and solar farms by 2020.
In its responses to questions from the Liberal Party in Parliament this week, the State Government indicated a wind farm would cost up to $650 million to build.
The wind farm, known as Warradarge, to be built in the Mid West, would enable Synergy to discharge almost all its obligations under the target.
But the Opposition said that regardless of how Synergy developed Warradarge – by either building it or being an offtake partner for it – the utility would wear the cost on its balance sheet.
Shadow energy minister Dean Nalder said the cost would be lumped with State debt, which is more than $33 billion and headed towards $42 billion within four years.
Mr Nalder said when the Government’s other renewable energy commitments – a wave farm in Albany and solar and biomass projects in Collie – were taken into account, the cost could be almost $1 billion.
He said the Liberal Party was committed to the RET but the Government’s ad hoc approach threatened to saddle taxpayers and energy consumers with unnecessarily high costs.
“This uncoordinated approach by the Labor Government will see the cost of electricity for mum and dad consumers be significantly higher than it needs to be,” Mr Nalder said.
Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said the former government’s failure to make a decision about how Synergy would meet its requirements was the reason for the uncertainty.
He said the design of the RET was configured by the former Abbott government and Mr Nalder should take up the issue with his Federal Liberal colleagues if he had concerns.
Mr Wyatt dismissed as premature Mr Nalder’s claims it would cost WA up to $1 billion to meet the RET.