A powerful parliamentary committee has agreed to hold a public inquiry into Helen Haines’ renewable energy plan for regional Australia.
The House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy yesterday resolved to commence an inquiry into Dr Haines’ Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi last month put forward the legislation that would establish a new agency with dedicated funds to drive local ownership of new renewable energy projects.
Dr Haines heralded the announcement as a step forward for regional Australia.
“Here in the regions we can see renewables getting built at lightning pace – but we’re not seeing enough local jobs, we’re not seeing enough local procurement and we’re seeing all the profits flow to the cities, rather than staying here where they are generated,” she said.
Under the plan, a new Australian Local Power Agency would support regional communities to develop and invest in their own renewable energy projects, by establishing hubs of local experts to help develop community-driven projects, as well as new forms of financial support including grants and loans.
It would implement a new requirement that all large-scale renewable projects offer local residents a chance to invest in them.
“The idea behind ALPA is simple: every electron generated in the regions should be money coming back into the pockets of everyday regional people,” Dr Haines said.
“Every spin of a wind turbine and every drop of sunlight should be generating income that stays in our communities.”
Dr Haines said politicians from both major parties understand they have to do more to offer regional Australia better ways to ride the renewable boom.
“Members of both parties recognise that the trend towards renewables is unstoppable, and yet there is a deadlock right now on energy policy. I’m offering ALPA as an idea for both parties to consider as a way we might move forward on this vexed issue,” she said.
Dr Haines thanked the government and Opposition for agreeing to launch the inquiry.
“I have had fruitful discussions with many members of the committee and I know how busy that committee is,” she said.
“Agreeing to hold this inquiry shows there is a willingness to hear fresh ideas and I think an appetite for leadership in this space.”
The Haines inquiry will commence once the committee has finished its current inquiry into Independent MP Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill. It will invite submissions from the public and hold open hearings.
The committee will then make recommendations to government about whether to adopt Dr Haines’ Bill to establish the new agency.
More information about how to participate in the inquiry will be published at a later date.