2014 has been wonderful for linking more and more of us together in a common cause – the protection of renewables. We have communicated some very powerful messages of support for wind energy, both locally in places like Portland and Goulburn and our two new organisers hosted a powerful new Senator at the Capital Wind Farm in New South Wales. And that support has been sorely needed.
Since the beginning of the year the Abbott government has had the Renewable Energy Target was in its sights. A VicWind petition to protect the important RET mechanism received strong public support from leaders in wind districts across Victoria, and momentum built from there.
People across Australia came to us urging us to help them show their support for wind energy, so we launched the Australian Wind Alliance nationally in April, welcoming Mhairi Fraser and Charlie Prell as organisers in New South Wales later on in the year.
When submissions were called for the Warburton Review of the RET, we were ready. We knew the outcome was stacked against us, so we set up a tool for supporters to write their own submission to the review through the AWA website, then opt to email the same message to their local Member of Parliament.
In the following weeks the wind alliance held 12 submission sessions in farmhouses, city offices and factory and wind farm lunchrooms, bringing together groups of farmers, wind workers and other supporters to share stories and write submissions. People also wrote online from home.
We contributed 432 individual submissions in support of the target - a whopping effort for an organisation that was less than two years old!
One poignant submission from Brian in New South Wales drove the need for better government support home: “Having been all my life a keen and active Liberal Party supporter I am dismayed and disillusioned that the Party seems to have fallen under the spell of those who care not at all for the party’s good record for statesmanship and responsibility…. it is shameful that we would even consider cutting the RET.”
Organisers Charlie and Mhairi were proud to host Palmer United Party Senator Glenn Lazarus at the Capital Wind Farm in Bungendore, where he declared his support of the Renewable Energy Target for the first time.
They also met with the New South Wales Planning Minister Pru Goward multiple times to discuss the effective use of planning regulations for wind farms.
In Victoria, the year wound up by promising a major shake to wind farm planning laws after the anti-wind Liberal state government was voted out and replaced by a Labor government promising to water down, though not repeal, Ted Baillieu's 2km veto laws. Keeping the Andrews government to their promises will be central task next year.
2014 also saw us do some important work with some key allies:
- GetUp featured our New South Wales organiser and farmer Charlie in a popular video about the importance of the RET, which was subsequently broadcast into parliament house through Sky News.
AWA and Yes2Renewables hosted a Renewable Energy & Jobs public meeting in Portland, south-west Victoria, with 250 people watching former Liberal leader John Hewson, Victorian politicians and Portland business leaders discussing their position on the Renewable Energy Target in August.
Crowlands in central Victoria played host to a lively public meeting attended by the Federal MP with the most wind turbines in his electorate, the Liberals’ Dan Tehan, and 100 supporters. This meeting was organised by a passionate local team, with 11 speakers, and was supported by the wind alliance.
In June, the wind alliance joined with Yes 2 Renewables and Infigen Energy to hold a public rally in front of Parliament House, Canberra, to celebrate Global Wind Day, with 150 people attending. Speakers included ACT Environment Minister, Simon Corbell.
September saw us join with solar supporters across Australia with the Rally for Renewables.
We were at community events such as Run with the Wind and the Regional Renewable Energy Business Forum & Expo in Goulburn, New South Wales, the Portland Upwelling Festival, Victoria, and the opening of Snowtown II Wind Farm in South Australia.
We worked with Waubra, Victoria, community members in a bit to have their town name removed from anti-wind organisation the Waubra Foundation. While the organisation has not changed its name, it lost its “health promotion charity” status with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission just this month.
- We also staged a rally at very short notice in front of Nick Xenophon's Adelaide office to highlight his involvement with a dodgy Senate Inquiry into wind farms.
However, direct connections with our online supporters have also been key. In September the wind alliance achieved unprecedented levels of support, with 10,000 “Likes” on its Facebook page.
Major online campaigns saw us urging Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party to maintain their resolve on the protection of the RET, and congratulating new New South Wales Premier Mike Baird for showing leadership on renewables.
When support for the RET was continuing to fall on deaf ears, investors began to feel the pinch, and in October, wind tower builder Keppel Prince Engineering in Portland, Victoria, announced it would have to cut 100 jobs.
Welder Neville Dennert made a heart-felt plea for more political support for wind power on our Facebook page, and he received more than 600 “likes” in support.
With the future of the Renewable Energy Target still in the balance alot remains up in the air until the new year when it will be crucial for us to keep up our public support for wind energy. Until then,