Labor will ensure the benefits of clean energy are available to all Australians, by creating a network of Community Power Hubs that will boost jobs and facilitate the installation of small-scale renewables projects, the Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, said today.
Ms King said across the Ballarat electorate, renewable energy is putting thousands of households and small businesses back in control of their power bills.
“Labor’s plan will allow more and more people to take advantage of the same opportunities and benefit from the rise of renewable energy, no matter where they live,” Ms King said.
In the past decade, the number of Australian household installations of solar panels has soared from just over 1,000 to 1.5 million today. The take-up rate of rooftop solar has been highest in outer metropolitan and regional areas, contrary to the mistaken idea that it is most popular among inner-city and higher-income households.
“There are 20,000 Australians currently employed in the renewable energy sector, including many working around Ballarat in the solar industry and at the Waubra, Mount Mercer, Chepstowe and Hepburn wind farms,” Ms King said.
“Unfortunately, the repeated attacks on renewables by the Abbott-Turnbull Government has put this growing industry at risk. While the rest of the world added two million jobs in renewable energy over the last two years, Australia went backwards and lost over 2,000 jobs,” she said.
“It is in everyone’s interest in the Ballarat region that confidence be restored, and that small-scale renewables like the Hepburn wind farm be encouraged. Not just so that all Australians can have equal access to lower electricity bills, but also to secure jobs and lower carbon emissions for the economy as a whole,” she said.
Ms King said Australian households have taken up the opportunity of installing renewable energy systems like rooftop solar panels with enthusiasm, providing a boost for manufacturers and installers across the country.
However, there remain gaps in the significant proportion of households that have previously found it too difficult to access rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables, including those who live in rental properties, public housing and apartment blocks.
“Labor believes all households should have access to renewable energy if they want it, and not just those lucky enough to live in dwellings that make it easy,” Ms King said.
“I’m proud to say that if we are elected on the 2nd of July, a Shorten Labor Government will provide $98.7 million toward the creation of up to ten Community Power Hubs in the areas of most need, which will deal with the challenges of implementing renewable energy solutions,” she said.
The Hubs will work with local communities to support the development of renewable projects, by providing legal and technical expertise as well as start-up funding. Examples of projects that could be eligible include:
- “Solar gardens” or shared arrays of solar panels for groups of renters.
- Retrofitting of existing social housing to promote energy efficiency.
- Community wind farms.
- Working with social housing and aged care providers on solar rooftop installations.
The Hubs will also explore innovative methods of finance for low-income earners and pensioners, including using council rate payments as contributions for projects.
“On renewables, the choice couldn’t be more clear – Labor stands for growth while the government is only interested in destruction,” Ms King said.
Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Ave, Barton, ACT 2600