– Andrew Bray, National Director, RE-Alliance.
As 2022 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the dramatic changes these 12 months have brought and the way in which RE-Alliance has worked to bring some of them about.
Policy Manager Kate Kotarska at Mudgee Field Day talking to locals
2022 saw a fundamental shift in Australia’s renewable energy roll-out. The Federal Government’s climate targets, while not yet ambitious enough, do set a clear path towards decarbonisation. Renewable energy will be the primary driver to achieve these targets. Federal commitment to building out the extensive transmission system outlined in the Australian Energy Market Operator's 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) is also critical. In the recently released World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Renewable Energy Scorecard #3, we are delighted to see states upping their renewable energy targets, investments and infrastructure.
With all the political foundations in place, we can leave behind the unwanted distractions about whether or not the energy transformation should take place, and move to making sure that the transformation is delivered in a way that sees tangible benefits for regional communities.
We are delighted with some big policy and practice wins we saw in 2022, from the government, from industry and from communities.
The most fundamental policy change was the New South Wales Government’s strategic benefit payment to landholders of $200,000 per kilometre paid over 20 years, for all new large-scale transmission lines built on their properties. NSW’s strategic benefit payment came after advocacy by RE-Alliance and our allies for over eighteen months. It provides certainty around the development of new transmission lines and sets precedents for other states to follow.
Advocacy Manager Lu Allan (bottom left) at Windy Hill wind farm with our friends from Far North QLD climate and environment movements
Together with the prominence the ISP gives to the need for industry to earn social licence, such policies ensure the renewable energy transition is a just one that delivers substantial benefits to regional communities and therefore is more efficient for all stakeholders, including governments, industry and end consumers.
We participate in the development of such policies through our submissions. In RE-Alliance's submissions we highlighted areas of consideration for social licence: the need for community participation, representing community interests and community engagement. In 2022, we made 12 submissions as input for State and Federal Government policies.
This year, we partnered with industry to keep a focus on the needs of communities in their work. We have done this by ascertaining community needs, conducting industry roundtables, helping manage the set up of community benefit funds and assisting developers to improve their community engagement plans and practice.
National Director Andrew Bray (right) at the Large Scale Solar Forum
Climate change is a key driver accelerating the transition to renewable energy. Given the wide ranging impacts of climate change – from economic to environmental, from social to geographic – we would like to see all barriers to the transition addressed as quickly as possible. Our vision is to see the renewable energy transition contribute to a healthier environment. As a step towards this, we facilitated the development of a joint statement with leading environmental organisations across Australia calling for the fair and timely rollout of transmission lines.
Just as 2022 marked many milestones for the Australian renewable energy sector, in 2022 our organisation crossed an important milestone – RE Alliance celebrated its tenth birthday! Our journey during this time has included building industry partnerships, nurturing changing regional communities and watching the renewable energy landscape transform. Through all this, we have been an organisation that brings the voices and interests of regional communities to the Australian renewable energy transition.
Our Community Engagement Workshop held in Mudgee
At RE-Alliance, we are uniquely placed to work with all the stakeholders of the renewable energy transition: communities in the places renewables are built, the industry and the government. Our independence makes this possible. As we step into our second decade, our independence remains our most important value and will help us continue to highlight unrepresented voices and aspirations to create a just energy transformation.
This work would not be possible without the confidence and endorsement of our supporters. And however you may choose to support us, through participating in our REZ community workshops, making a donation, becoming a member or by spreading the word about our work, we are grateful for your support.
We look forward to your continued support of RE-Alliance in 2023.