Calls for ‘ambitious’ renewable energy target

Pictured during last year’s election campaign are Taryn Lane (Hepburn Wind), Mary-Anne Thomas (Labor MP), Leigh Ewbank (Friends of the Earth), Neil Barker (The Greens), and Alastair Fleming (Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group). Picture: Supplied

An ambitious state renewable energy target of 30 per cent by 2020 will help tackle climate change, unleash investment and create jobs in areas like the Macedon Ranges, environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has said.

Speaking after meeting Macedon Labor MP Mary-Anne Thomas and Gisborne-based energy company WestWind last week, FoE spokesman Leigh Ewbank said the Labor government had shown leadership by repealing the worst parts of the former Liberal government’s wind farm bans.

‘‘The government can build on the positive first step by setting ambitious targets for 2020 and 2025,’’ he said.

WestWind managing director Tobi Geiger said the company, which came to Gisborne in 2008, employs five staff, but wants to expand.

‘‘It was the original Victorian renewable energy target established by the Bracks’ government that drew us to Victoria, and we enjoy working in a regional area like the Macedon Ranges,’’ he said.

‘‘A robust plan to grow Victoria’s renewable energy sector … is something all parties can support.’’

Ms Thomas said the government, which has released an energy ‘‘roadmap’’ ahead of a broader renewables plan expected early next year, wanted to help companies like WestWind get more projects under way.

‘‘Renewable energy means jobs,’’ she said.

The roadmap includes four priority areas: establishing renewable energy targets for 2020 and 2025, using the government’s electricity purchasing power to help create hundreds of renewable energy jobs, ending discrimination and improving access to the grid for solar customers, and supporting clean energy jobs through a $20 million new energy jobs fund.