FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER, 2014 |
RET Announcement Fallout - The First 100 Casualties
It didn't take long for the knock-on effects of the Government's announcement concerning Australia's Renewable Energy Target to claim victims. A major wind turbine tower manufacturer in Victoria announced yesterday it will be shedding 100 jobs.
Keppel Prince Engineering
, which has worked on some of the largest wind farms in Australia, says the continuing uncertainty concerning the Renewable Energy Target has contributed to a decision to mothball most of its fabrication facilities in Portland. This will result in a reduction in its workforce of approximately 100 full time employees.
"We believe that a sustainable business in wind tower fabrication is possible with a favourable outcome to the Renewable Energy Target review and a move towards local content requirements in Australian projects. We also take the position that for a business to be sustainable, there must be profit margins commensurate with the efforts expended and resources used," says part of a statement from the company; which will continue to seek viable projects with view to resuming operation.
The Australian Wind Alliance
(AWA) has expressed anger at the Government.
"It is extremely regretful that this government is so hostile to renewable energy," said Andrew Bray, the National Co-ordinator for AWA concerning the government's stance on the RET.
"It is extremely disappointing that local MPs like Dan Tehan were out calling this a victory in the last 24 hours. The government is trying to nobble the renewable energy industry in order to defend the interests of its mates in the big power companies. These job losses are a direct result of the government's failure to listen to regional communities."
While support for home solar power appears to have dodged the renewables razor gang (for now), the Government's intended substantial reduction of the Target would hit large scale renewables hard
and has also drawn the ire of the Australian Solar Council, the Clean Energy Council, Labor and the Greens. The future for commercial scale solar is also uncertain.
The Keppel Engineering layoffs aren't the first and won't be the last says Clean Energy Council Acting CEO Kane Thornton.
"These lay-offs follow others announced by renewable energy companies throughout the year, along with asset write-downs and frozen investments. The Federal Government has set its starting position at a level that it knows would decimate the renewable energy industry. In doing so, it has ignored analysis conducted for its own review that shows any reduction in the RET will increase power prices for consumers in the future," he said.
"The casualties of this kind of game-playing are real jobs, as we have seen with the announcement by Keppel Prince Engineering. Victorian Premier Denis Napthine should be asking his federal counterparts some serious questions after these job losses were announced by a major employer in his electorate today."
Victoria's Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection, Energy, Cost of Living and the Suburbs, Lily D'Ambrosio, tweeted: "100 jobs to go at Keppel Prince thanks to Abbott wreaking havoc over RET. Napthine must share responsibility for failure of leadership."
However, Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine has apparently laid blame squarely on wind energy companies not keeping their promise of keeping production of wind towers local.
Perhaps Premier Napthine didn't read all of Keppel Prince's press release ...or missed a bit.
Solar A Now An Employment Perk For 100,000
A coalition of U.S. corporate giants has announced a nationwide employee benefits program designed to help bring cheap solar power to communities across all 50 US states and parts of Canada.
The Solar Communities Initiative is facilitated by the World Wildlife Fund
and modelled on similar programs in towns and neighbourhoods elsewhere. The program offers 100,000 employees, friends and families of 3M, Kimberly-Clarke and The National Geographic Society discount rooftop solar energy systems at a flat rate 35 per cent lower than the national average and roughly 50 per cent less expensive than average electric utility rates.
"We are pleased to offer our US and Canada employees a renewable energy alternative to cut their own electric bills," said Ali Ahmed, manager, Cisco Global Energy Management and Sustainability. "By extending the benefits of affordable solar energy that we have as a corporation to our employees and other stakeholders, we are multiplying our sustainability impact."
According to the WWF, the program enables home owners to have solar panels installed without any up-front outlay. The organisation says if just one per cent of the workers went solar, 74,500 metric tons of carbon emissions would be avoided each year – the equivalent of taking more than 15,000 cars off the road.
"This takes the bulk purchase model from individual neighbourhoods and organisations to a national scale," said Keya Chatterjee, senior director of renewable energy at WWF. "A coast-to-coast, low, flat rate helps mitigate two major barriers of solar adoption - complexity and price - making it possible for more American families to save the planet without leaving their homes."
U.S. solar provider Geostellar, a company with an established Solar Community program in place, won an intensive bidding war under the Energy Department’s SunShot Incubator program and was chosen to coordinate all aspects of the initiative; including system design, supplying panels and coordinating with local qualified solar installers.
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