Regions part-own renewables in MP’s plan | Ralph-Lauren

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Regional communities would own a slice of renewable energy projects in their towns under a proposal from an independent federal politician.

Indi MP Helen Haines will on Monday introduce a bill to parliament which sets up the Australian Local Power Agency.

The plan puts renewables at the heart of Australia’s economic recovery from coronavirus and sees regional communities benefit.

“Every spin of a wind turbine and every drop of sunlight should be generating income that stays in our communities,” Ms Haines said.

The regional Victorian MP has looked at Europe for inspiration, pointing to Germany where farmers own 10 per cent of all renewable energy projects, and others in the community own 30 per cent.

“If we had a system like that in Australia, that would be billions of dollars flowing straight into the pockets of people in regional Australia every year,” Ms Haines said.

“If people in towns like Wangaratta and Benalla want to come together and invest in their own local solar farm which they own, then I think they should get the same support that the government is giving to the big energy companies.”

The federal government is again divided over energy policy, with the Nationals jumping on Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s bill – for gas projects – to push for taxpayer money to go towards coal and nuclear power.

Ms Haines’ bill would see renewable projects be underwritten by the government.

The slew of Nationals have been outspoken on energy policy and claim net zero emissions and the rise of renewables will hurt their communities.

Members of the Farmers for Climate Action group and the founding member of a community-owned solar farm network will support Ms Haines in Canberra on Monday.

The independent says Australia should make the most of investments going towards renewable energy projects.

“This opportunity is slipping through our fingers because too many regional politicians in this place spend their time fighting the renewable tide instead of harnessing it,” she said.

“It is their constituents, people in the Mallee, in the Riverina, in New England, who stand to gain the most from renewables.”

The federal government’s gas-fired recovery from the coronavirus continues to face opposition.

Feedback is open on the government’s plans until Friday.

The Australia Institute has released analysis against it, saying that 10 per cent of the oil and gas industry’s workforce lost their jobs in the year to December, a higher rate than other sectors.

The think-tank says the government should instead put taxpayer money towards industries where jobs are being created instead of lost.

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