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Submission to the Victorian REZ Development Plan Directions Paper

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Introduction

RE-Alliance welcomes the Victorian government’s leadership in investing in Renewable Energy Zones and creating VicGrid. The Victorian government is correct to note that unacceptable delays in critical network investment threaten the security of the state’s electricity system and frustrate the timely decarbonisation of the state’s economy. The REZ Development Plan Directions Paper reflects the work needed to decarbonise Victoria's grid in line with AEMO’s most ambitious modelling. 

We thank the government for centring community engagement and benefit-sharing as a key component of VicGrid and in the rollout of renewable energy zones. 

Social licence at a local level for renewable projects is a critical pillar of the transition to clean energy. All new electricity infrastructure brings impacts for local communities. Engaging effectively and ensuring significant financial benefits accrue to impacted communities are essential first steps to securing social licence.  In Victoria, we’ve seen ideological opponents to renewables leverage local frustrations towards wind farms in strategic ways so as to colour the policy environment and obstruct progress to a lower emissions future. While we consider much of this is behind us, we are wary of the potential for the much-needed large scale transmission projects to cause a similar type of obstruction to REZ rollouts across the eastern states. 

Poor planning and holes in communication with project neighbours can have significant negative consequences, and even threaten the success of renewable energy zones. An example of how poorly this can play out can be seen recently in Germany, where interventions in the network have led to social licence issues and delays in meeting climate targets.

“The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the data in the ISP was Germany’s build-out of transmission infrastructure, and how it has drawn significant backlash. This backlash has made new German interconnection more expensive and badly delayed, and that has delayed the build-out of renewable energy and is impacting Germany’s ability to meet its climate targets”.

Over the last seven years, our organisation has been working in this intersection between renewable energy projects and local communities, assisting wind farms to build bridges with local communities through benefit and profit-sharing arrangements. This typically takes the form of community enhancement funds that provide grants to local community groups and neighbour payments schemes. However, we have seen a great variety of innovative models. In particular, 

  • RE-Alliance is currently facilitating a combined fund vehicle to bring together project-based wind farm community enhancement funds across the Moyne Shire
  • Community members are able to co-invest in large wind farms at Sapphire, Coonooer Bridge and Kiata Wind Farms.
  • Construction of a solar and battery-based mini-grid for residents around the Dundonnell Wind Farm.
  • Simultaneous support for local business and project neighbours through a Neighbourhood Benefit Scheme. Residents around the Mortlake South Wind Farm receive gift cards that can be redeemed only at local outlets.

We hope the combined fund model we have developed which uses on-the-ground experience to enhance social licence at a local level is of interest to the government. We would be happy to discuss our work further with the Department. Our goal is to make sure the transition to renewables delivers meaningful opportunities for community enhancement to communities across regional Australia. This work will assist in creating the policy settings, the expectations and best-practice knowledge on how to deliver a just transition for regional communities. 

Summary of Recommendations

RE-Alliance makes the following recommendations in regard to how VicGrid engages with local communities:

  1. embed consideration of social licence in REZ Development Plans
  2. establish a benefit and coordination framework;
  3. create a new engagement and benefit guide;
  4. establish REZ coordinators;
  5. recognise the critical role of Traditional Owners in the process; and
  6. ensure VicGrid communicates the energy transition to the community. 

 

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Submission to the Tasmanian Government on the Draft Renewable Energy Coordination Framework

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Summary of Recommendations

  • An auction process for Tasmania could be valuable to coordinate development geographically and over time, set standards for the best community outcomes and enable coordination of community benefits.
  • Tasmania should adopt best practices in terms of biodiversity protection.
    The Government should consider aligning community benefit programs with existing social policies, such as those identified in Council strategic plans.
  • RE-Alliance supports the need for a review of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 to determine whether projects such as large scale solar farms, transmission lines, pumped hydro and hydrogen should be listed as activities requiring EPA Tasmania assessment.
  • RE-Alliance supports the establishment of a coordinator role. The role’s mandate should be clearly specified.
    REZ planning should prioritise social licence by stipulating best practice community engagement and delivering effective benefit sharing mechanisms.
  • Re-Alliance would support further investigation by jurisdictions on how benefit-sharing programs for transmission projects can be managed given the current focus on economic efficiency within the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) based on the NEO.
    RE-Alliance recommends that the Government provides legal and technical support for the coordinated community benefit fund in each REZ.
  • RE-Alliance recommends that the Government provide legal and technical support for renewable community co-ownership, co-investment and community ownership.
  • RE-Alliance recommends that the Government provide support for a collaborative approach between scheme providers by creating a social licence working group in Government tasked with investigating opportunities in planning, construction, and operational phases.
  • RE-Alliance recommends that Traditional Owners are recognised as key stakeholders to be consulted during the development and benefit sharing process.
  • RE-Alliance recommends that the Tasmanian Government draws on the experience and resources created by other jurisdictions to create a Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing Guide outlining best practice for the Tasmanian context, referring to other relevant frameworks as necessary.
  • RE-Alliance recommends that the Tasmanian Government establish the role of community educator to help communicate and articulate why the REZ is important for social, environmental and economic reasons. This function could be incorporated in the Renewable Energy Coordinator role.

Submission for the Victorian Changes to the Regulation of Wind Farm Noise

25th February 2021

 

RE-Alliance

 

RE-Alliance, formerly known as the Australian Wind Alliance, is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive online and social media following. Our members include landholders, farmers, small businesses, climate campaigners, environmentalists and members of the community. Our vision is helping to deliver a renewable energy transformation in Australia filled with sustainable, long-term benefits for regional communities.

 

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Submission re the Draft Brolga Assessment and Mitigation Standards

18 December 2020

 

RE-Alliance

RE-Alliance formerly known as the Australian Wind Alliance is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive online and social media following. Our members include landholders, farmers, small businesses, climate campaigners, environmentalists and members of the community. Our vision is helping to deliver a renewable energy transformation in Australia filled with sustainable, long-term community benefits for regional communities.



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Submission Consultation Paper on the Second VRET Auction

October 2020, 2020

The Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive online and social media following. Our members include landholders, farmers, small businesses, and members of the community, including many neighbours to existing wind farms. The Wind Alliance encourages best practice community engagement and benefit sharing as keys to maximising benefits to regional Australia and lowering Australia’s carbon emissions.

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Submission - ESB REZ Planning rule change

Renewable Energy Zones Planning Discussion Paper

Responding to http://www.coagenergycouncil.gov.au/publications/energy-security-board-renewable-energy-zones-planning-consultation

8 September 2020

About Australian Wind Alliance

The Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive online and social media following. Our members include landholders, farmers, small businesses, and members of the community, including many neighbours to existing wind farms. The Wind Alliance encourages best practice community engagement and benefit sharing as keys to maximising benefits to regional Australia and lowering Australia’s carbon emissions.

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Submission to NSW DPIE - Uungula Wind Farm

Wednesday, 8th July 2020

The Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive supporter, online and social media following. Our members include farmers, small businesses and members of the community. The Wind Alliance encourages best practice community engagement and benefit sharing as keys to maximising benefits to regional Australia and lowering Australia’s carbon emissions.

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Submission - Technology Investment Roadmap

21 June 2020

Submitted to consultation process for Australia's Technology Investment Roadmap

Introduction

The Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive online and social media following. Our members include landholders, farmers, small businesses, and members of the community, including many neighbours to existing wind farms. The Wind Alliance encourages best practice community engagement and benefit sharing as keys to maximising benefits to regional Australia and lowering Australia’s carbon emissions.

Australia is a carbon-intensive economy that has been left ill-prepared to adapt to the zero carbon world that will be required by mid-century at the latest if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. After years of inaction on climate change, the challenge we face to rapidly restructure our economy is massive. Any climate policy instrument on the table in 2020 must start by acknowledging the size of this task and responding with the appropriate level of urgency. This must be reflected in a single-minded focus only on those solutions that will contribute the adequate level of emissions reduction in the time frame required. False solutions that see existing carbon-emitting technologies extended and avoid doing our utmost to drive adoption of carbon-reducing technologies lead us down the wrong path.

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Submission - Rye Park Wind Farm Mod 1

3rd June 2020

 

The Australian Wind Alliance supports the proposed modification to Rye Park Wind Farm MOD 1 - Tip Height Increase

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Offshore Wind Framework Submission


24th February 2020

Submission to Offshore Clean Energy Infrastructure Regulatory Framework Discussion Paper

Please direct any enquiries to:

 

Andrew Bray

National Coordinator, Australian Wind Alliance

0434 769 463

[email protected]


About AWA

The Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) is a community advocacy group. Our members include farmers, wind workers, local businesses and community supporters. We are independent of the wind industry. Our mission is to stand up for wind power, to build prosperous communities and lower emissions.

 

AWA is well connected with on-the-ground issues at many wind farm projects and is in a unique position to help find solutions. We see great potential for offshore wind to deliver the same benefits for Australia and for regional communities as onshore wind has over the last 30 years.

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