Calls for guarantees: Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan has asked the state energy minister to assure Great Ocean Road residents they will have power and safety.
The technology was to be rolled out across the state in a $151 million project aimed at reducing the risk of bushfires, but the project has blown out to an expected $1 billion.
State Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio has claimed the REFCL system will stop 70 per cent of fires, but she’s come under fire from experts who strongly dispute her claims.
The installation of the system is expected to cost each south-west customer more than $400.
With the busy summer season fast approaching, Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan has sent a letter to Ms D’Ambrosio demanding to know what the Victorian Government plans to do to keep the power on in Apollo Bay, and the Otways safe from fire.
“Through increased charges on power bills, Minister D’Ambrosio has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the controversial REFCL technology,” Mr Riordan said.
“Despite warnings now for years, Powercor has had to turn off this hugely expensive technology, to keep doors open in Apollo Bay.
“Minister D’Ambrosio and Premier Daniel Andrews have to come clean on this pet project is looking more and more like a white elephant.
“I am calling on Minister D’Ambrosio to come to Apollo Bay and personally guarantee local business and the community that they will not be facing economic hardships this summer due to intermittent power supply.”
Mr Riordan said Apollo Bay has had at least five power outages during the past two months.
“These have occurred during peak trading times and are having a huge impact on retailers with a loss in revenue, spoiling food and creating problems with electrical equipment,” he said.
“Minister Lily D’Ambrosio needs to explain to Apollo Bay residents and business owners what provisions are in place for the upcoming bushfire season.
“The community deserves answers and assurances that the local economy will not be threatened by the Minister’s reckless pursuit of REFCLs,” Mr Riordan said.
A spokeswoman for Ms D’Ambrosio said the minister was aware of the situation.
“We understand Powercor is having compatibility issues between REFCL’s and their Auto Switchover Scheme in Apollo Bay,” she said.
“The problem is not with the REFCLs themselves, but is occurring due to a fault with the Apollo Bay network. Other sites have the same configuration and have not run into these issues.
“Powercor has advised they have temporarily disabled REFCLs in the area while they fix the network fault and will be working closely with emergency services to ensure both reliability and community safety throughout this time.
“The REFCLs are anticipated to be back online before the bushfire season starts and we’ll be monitoring the situation closely to ensure this occurs.”
Wind Farm Clean Up
10 September, 2019-Richard Riordan MP
Member for Polwarth, Richard Riordan MP, has called for an iron clad guarantee from the State Government that wind farms will have a fully funded decommissioning expectation.
Recently in Parliament speaking on the Mine Rehabilitation Bill and the Renewable Energy Amendment Bill, Mr Riordan said that while the State Government had a view about decommissioning mines, it did not seem to have a decommissioning policy for the end of life of wind farms.
“This Government spends a lot of time talking about the importance of mining making sure that when we have an effect on the environment, and we make a commitment that changes the landscape, that we also have a corresponding commitment to clean it up and manage it into the future. That is an admirable concept. But when it comes to renewable energy this government is refusing to put the necessary steps in place at the start of its process to manage what even a five-year-old would be able to figure out is going to be a problem,” he said.
Mr Riordan said that millions of dollars are being thrown at renewables. “But what is going to happen when they come to the end of their natural life?” he asked. “Who is going to be responsible? Do the taxpayers have to fork out again?
“The Government spends time talking about how we will manage mines, but when it comes to large wind turbines and their various materials, this Government refuses to talk about what plan they have for a fully recycled and end of life decommissioning, should companies no longer want the turbines.
“Who is going to pay? Do we have to put taxes up? Do we have to charge people more for their energy in order to clean up the messes of future potential derelict wind farms?
“We must plan and finance for these future issues,” Mr Riordan said.