ORANGE’S renewable energy industry has voiced its concerns following the release of the Renewable Energy Target Review Panel’s report.
For large-scale generators, including wind farms, the report recommended to either maintain the scheme to 2030 for existing projects and discontinue it for new projects, or set targets a year in advance to ensure the renewables sector was responsible for 50 per cent of new growth in electricity demand.
With rising electricity prices and falling costs for small-scale generation systems, including solar panels and hot water systems, the panel considered the industry was becoming commercially viable.
As a result, it recommended to phase out the scheme in 2020 instead of 2030, or discontinue it completely.
The small-scale scheme would also be capped at 10 kilowatts rather than 100 kilowatts to ensure the focus remained on households.
Central West Solar owner Robert Biviano said he was preparing for the worst, with two employees’ jobs potentially on the line if the government took the decision to wind the scheme back.
“You’ll get a boom and bust scenario where installations will drop back to zero for a period of time,” he said.
Mr Biviano said higher electricity bills would continue to encourage families to move to solar, but businesses needed to see returns on investment sooner.
Central NSW Renewable Energy Co-op director Simon Wright said losing the large-scale scheme would damage the Flyers Creek wind farm’s chances of getting off the ground, along with any associated jobs and the opportunity for people to buy shares in the infrastructure.
“It’s prehistoric politics, it’s an absolute shocker all round,” he said.
“The demand for coal is dying and the renewable industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. We’re flying in the face of a global trend.
“It’s really important to remember that we subsidise the fossil fuel industry way more than the renewable energy industry.”
Member for Calare John Cobb said in a statement the current schemes meant the renewable sector would account for 26 per cent of electricity generation by 2020, well over the 20 per cent target.
“[It] will impose significant additional costs on the scheme if left unchecked,” he said.
“There will obviously be a change to the Renewable Energy Target scheme, but it is too early to say what impact this will have on potential local projects like the Flyers Creek wind farm.”