THE impact of the growing renewable energy industry on regional Victoria’s economic landscape was the focus of a public forum in Ararat on Wednesday evening.
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio was joined by Ararat Rural City Council mayor Gwenda Allgood and Northern Grampians Shire mayor Tony Driscoll at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, along with community and industry representatives, for the ‘Securing renewable energy jobs and investment’ forum.
Ms D’Ambrosio described the “many economic benefits” – both broad-scale and for individuals – of industry growth in the region.
One of those was the creation of over 10,000 construction jobs, but Ms D’Ambrosio said there were more to come.
“If you have a clear pathway and a clear plan and pipeline of jobs to get to the target, you start to create greater investment in local supply chains,” she said.
“When you do that, investors and billions of dollars of global investment are there looking for a place to park the money.”
Ms D’Ambrosio also addressed rising power bills.
“This is something that should never be ignored in these discussions – the affordability of what is an essential service,” she said.
“The good news is that not only can we grow renewable and do fantastic things for the environment and climate change … but it’s the most economically sensible thing to do to lower power bills because we know the cheapest form of new-build energy is renewable energy.”
The municipality of Ararat has four wind farms located at Challicum Hills, Ararat, Maroona and Crowlands and Cr Allgood said the projects have created an influx of labourers to the town.
“One of the main focuses of council has been to create jobs, and there's been no doubt the town has benefited dramatically with the construction of the wind farms. If you try and get a room here at the motels, good luck,” she said.
Event organiser Mr Ewbank from Friends of the Earth said the organisation is calling on whichever government is elected in November to create a dedicated climate fund.