Horticulture

Solar plan a dark day for Naringaningalook

by
February 01, 2018

Lightsource BP is considering building a 124ha solar power facility with generation capacity of up to 60 megawatts in the Naringaningalook area.

Lightsource BP is considering building a 124ha solar power facility with generation capacity of up to 60 megawatts in the Naringaningalook area.

The Victorian Renewable Energy Auction website indicates bids are being considered up to a February 14 cut-off for this round of Victorian Government invitations to build these facilities.

The above website describes the requirements for applicants such as Lightsource BP.

These include evidence of community support, benefits to community, social risk analysis, ongoing community engagement strategy and other similar points such as planning permits.

If successful it seems Lightsource BP would receive Victorian Government encouragement of a guaranteed price plus another subsidy paid over the next 15 years.

Additionally they receive reduced municipal rates on the value of capital improvements.

A 60 megawatt installation could generate 60 x 1000 equals 60000 kilowatts in an hour. At 10¢ per kWh, this provides a return of $6000 per hour. At last week’s spot market price (NEM) of 1000¢ per kWh the facility could provide $600000 per hour.

And where do most of the millions of dollars generated annually end up? In Europe and London.

So why is this a dark day for Naringaningalook?

Firstly, long established planning procedures by local and state government are set up for orderly and fair consideration of proposals consistent with a democracy.

Lightsource BP has gone around this cunningly by contracting a Melbourne group (Urbis) supposedly to gauge community comment by a drop-in day at the local hall on January 17.

The drop-in meeting was not the normal arrangement whereby the inquiries from individuals (or groups) could be listened and responded to privately and confidentially by knowledgeable people.

The four (Urbis) representatives just stood around two circular tables with pictures of what the development might look like.

Any engagement with them was a public conversation.

Urbis even countenanced the presence of the vendor of the proposed site.

Urbis seemed to be from another planet, mentioning chickens and lambs grazing under the panels, fauna gates for wildlife, not knowing which native grass species were to be sown, unaware of invasive weeds and displayed a flood overlay that showed a picture different to our last flood.

So the procedure for handling inquiry by individuals was ill-considered and the process inappropriate. Even some adjacent landowners were unaware of the event.

Secondly, Naring people do not know about the next steps.

Will there be a proposal for public comment? Will our shire or some government department be interested in convening a structured process to gather comment?

Will these normal processes be brushed aside so Lightsource BP can meet the February 14 deadline set by Victoria’s renewable energy department enabling our government to show it is one step further along the path to achieving its renewable energy targets?

Thirdly, Naring landowners do not understand what the apparent intended price to be paid for land will have on their future municipal rates and land value.

Figures of more than twice normal land values have been mentioned and of even up to $6000 per acre being paid for sites.

Fourthly, our district and region is being ‘dudded’ thoroughly by the way these developments are set up.

We should be ensuring that the people of our district have the first chance to benefit from developments using our resources.

As an example, a 10 megawatt solar generator may cost $8000000 to build. It could generate 10 x 8 x 365 equals 29200,000 kWh and at 10¢ per kWh this provides an income of $2920000 annually.

Even at half the value for power generated (the government guaranteed price) the returns are excellent.

If the Moira district set up a 100 megawatt unit with local money a $30million annual income would go a long way toward rate reductions and municipal developments.

Unfortunately, we seem to be happy to see this money go to offshore corporates.

Additionally these corporates receive a government guaranteed electricity price, capital incentives over the next 15 years to offset the cost of the facility and reduced municipal rates.

—Barry Croke

Naring

Get on with the job of delivering the plan

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan can be implemented as intended.

The Ernst and Young’s (EY) independent report was commissioned by the Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Department on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council to analyse efficiency measures in the Murray-Darling Basin relevant to the delivery of 450Gl of additional water by 2024.

Significantly, the independent EY report concludes: ‘‘From the analysis and discussions undertaken, and assuming the recommendations in the report are implemented, there is sufficient evidence the 450Gl can likely be recovered from water efficiency projects on a neutral or positive socio-economic basis’’.

The EY report found the 450Gl can be achieved with water recovery programs designed the right way and has, as requested, outlined how this can be achieved through program design.

The report recommends all industries and communities should be encouraged to participate equally in programs to negate distributional impacts; with equal access to funding and include projects to support structural change.

The EY report follows the recently released Marsden Jacob Associates report commissioned by the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities into on-farm water efficiency programs in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, which also reported similar findings.

Productivity and the regional economy will continue to grow, and this growth is projected to continue into the future.

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud has made it very clear, delivering the plan ‘‘in full’’ includes the 450Gl, ‘‘all basin governments agreed to the plan, he believes this report provides a pathway to delivering it’’.

The Goulburn Valley Environment Group calls on all parties to the basin plan to get on with the job; perceived uncertainty is both delaying our response to over-allocation of water resources and damaging the clean green image of our farmers and regions.

—John Pettigrew

president, Goulburn Valley

Environment Group

Basin plan is flushing productive water away

In Country News (July 4, 2017) the then Victorian Shadow Water Minister Peter Walsh said that the 450Gl could not be delivered when the Wentworth Group claimed that the plan could be delivered ‘‘on time and in full’’.

Mr Walsh said ‘‘there was no evidence to support the 450Gl’’ when it was written into the plan after a secretive deal between the Federal Government and the South Australian Labor Government.

Note that was in the dying days of the Gillard Government and she also came from South Australia.

Today a Federal Coalition Government dumps a strong performing Victorian minister in favour of a Queensland minister, who has said that he wants to deliver the 450Gl.

This is a politically stupid decision because the Coalition holds all of the irrigation seats and Labor holds none.

It is contrary to the state National Party, having only one seat majority it could easily cost them government.

Shepparton district has been already gutted by the removal of half its allocations.

The front page of the Shepparton News (December 13, 2017) states that estimated hundreds of millions of dollars would be taken out of the local economy.

Whose interests does Federal Water Minister David Littleproud represent when making these statements? These are the Wentworth Group, the Greens and the Labor Party that oppose irrigation.

Given that $1000 can be generated from each megalitre, this 450Gl represents nearly half a billion dollars.

To put this into perspective, if you add 450Gl to the 2750Gl it totals 3200Gl. That is nearly equivalent to the capacity of Eildon which is to be taken away from irrigators to be flushed down the rivers so it can be evaporated from saltwater lakes.

—NT Sims

Shepparton

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