September 18, 2020
The federal government’s funding announcement yesterday of $1.43 billion over a decade for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is welcome news.
But the package must work in the interests of rural and regional Australians.
ARENA has invested billions of dollars and created thousands of jobs in regional communities. Its investments have led to new technologies that are lowering power bills and emissions and creating new industries where we live.
- $74.5 million for businesses to develop hydrogen, electric and bio-fuelled vehicles
- $67 million for micro-grids in remote and regional communities, and
- $52.2m fund for energy efficiency upgrades for households and businesses
But the government’s announcement falls short.
This package fails to support local communities to develop their own energy initiatives.
Existing schemes for micro-grids and renewables too often favour large corporations at the expense of local communities. Everyday people are kept out of the picture, and the benefits tend to flow to corporate headquarters in our capitals or overseas.
We need a comprehensive plan to make sure that the shift to renewable energy happens with and for everyday people, especially those of us in regional Australia.
Already, in my electorate, the communities of Corryong, Yackandandah, Beechworth, Euroa and Yea are developing micro-grids.
We need a policy that supports these community-driven initiatives.
Next week I’m releasing my Local Power Plan. This Plan sets out a detailed framework to provide targeted support for renewable energy projects in communities like ours in Indi and elsewhere across the country.
We have a real prospect to create new, renewable jobs in the regions, and I will do all I can to make sure we don’t miss that opportunity.
That means we must protect ARENA’s renewable mandate.
In Parliament, I will seek to amend legislation that would divert funds away from regional renewables.