RE-Alliance broadly supports the usage of access fees set out in the consultation paper.
Our submission discusses how the usage of access fees can best contribute to the building and maintaining of social licence in communities set to host renewable energy zones. We predominantly comment on Section 5 ‘Setting and usage of access fees’ and Section 6 ‘Changing regulatory environments’.
We recognise that the Department understands the importance of community support and local benefits in the success of the REZ model, however we are concerned that community engagement and collaboration is not yet being prioritised. We note that both the REZ access scheme design and the competitive tender process webinars held in early February mentioned the importance of building social licence, but did not go into detail on the sections of the discussion papers that relate to community support, collaboration and benefits, nor were any questions about social licence answered in the Q&A sections.
As an organisation actively working in the CWO REZ, we can confirm that the absence of coordinated community engagement activities and opportunities for the local community to collaborate on the REZ process is already having an impact on local sentiment about the REZ. This poses a considerable risk to the success of all REZs, but particularly the first CWO REZ.