Last week I received what l presume was a mass mail-out letter from the Liberal member for Ripon, Louise Staley, about the project to bring renewable energy from Stawell to Melbourne. This letter refers to it on numerous occasions as a Labor government project. This is incorrect.
The facts are these:
- It is not a state government project. It was formulated by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
- AEMO was established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2009 to manage the national electricity market for the eastern states and the Australian gas markets. It is an independent organisation, a public company with federal and state government and industry representatives.
- It was AEMO that contracted power company AusNet to deliver the project and it was AusNet that decided the route which is to go from Stawell to Sydenham via Waubra, Newlyn and Darley.
- The Victorian Government’s involvement to date has been limited to requiring an Environmental Effects Statement although planning approval will now be required from both the Victorian and the Federal governments.
The aim of this project is a worthy one: to get the vast quantities of renewable energy from western Victoria into the grid for the benefit of all Victorians. The proposed route has understandably attracted strong opposition from the many farming and rural communities through which the 80 metre high towers and power lines will run. Those opposing it want alternate routes and methods of construction (e.g. underground) to be considered particularly through sensitive areas.
This is undoubtedly a complex issue but Ms Staley must be aware of the above facts. Rather than using taxpayer funds to mislead the public by incorrectly blaming the state government for everything related to it, I urge her to join with local political, council and community leaders in encouraging AEMO, AusNet and the state and federal governments to work together to find a better way of delivering this important project.