Friday 10th December 2021
For Immediate Release
Electricity Plan Great News for budding Renewable Energy Zones
A new plan to transform Australia’s electricity system will drive a long period of prosperity for rural and regional Australia, says regional community advocacy group, RE-Alliance.
On Friday, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released its draft 2022 Integrated System Plan. Updated every two years, the AEMO plan is the energy sector’s roadmap, stretching three decades into the future.
It reflects market forces and outlines the infrastructure we need to prioritise to keep our grid operating smoothly and prepare us for the challenges of decarbonisation and electrification.
Andrew Bray, RE-Alliance National Director, says “The plan is refreshingly ambitious, and completely achievable. It is great for the climate and for our regions.
“An energy transformation on this scale means a multi-year construction boom, with tens of thousands of new jobs created in the regions building wind, solar and transmission projects and then operating them for the long term.
“Right now, governments need to prioritise upskilling our workforce by funding training opportunities in Renewable Energy Zones to ensure jobs will go to local people.”
Coal export regions such as Gladstone in Queensland and the Hunter Valley in NSW are also set to benefit from the transition, as billions of dollars are being invested into the creation of renewable hydrogen export hubs. Other coal regions such as the Latrobe Valley in Victoria will also benefit as renewable companies bid for access to the valuable transmission line capacity in the region.
Karin Stark, Narromine local and RE-Alliance Community Engagement Manager, says “It’s really exciting. In the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (Dubbo region), we’re already seeing volunteer groups and local businesses working together to make the most of renewables investment in the area.
“We are creating plans to ensure more profits stay local, more jobs go to locals, and we are demonstrating to the industry and state government what our priorities are for our future.”
Farmers across Australia are already profiting from renewables. When farmers decide to host wind turbines or solar arrays amongst their crops and livestock, they receive lease payments.
Stark says “Our region has experienced drought, and now flooding and heavy rain ruining crops, so it’s even more important that farmers are able to diversify their risk through securing guaranteed incomes from leasing land.
“In Australia, we already have fantastic examples of community co-investment, neighbourhood improvement programs and community benefit funds all coming from renewable projects.
“Our regions must be at the centre of renewables development, it can’t just be top-down.”