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Green power will need new rules

RENEWABLE energy producers have put the onus on the State Government and Western Power to establish market rules that allow increased use of green energy.

The move towards green energy took a big step forward this week when Alinta signed a power purchase agreement with Renewable Power Ventures to buy all of the output from a planned $200 million wind farm.

Other groups pursuing green energy include Griffin Energy, which has proposed a $160 million wind farm.

Alinta and Griffin have emphasised that their projects are dependent on the introduction of ‘top up and spill’ market rules, which enable renewable energy projects to deal with fluctuations in their output.

The Government is planning to introduce these rules as an interim measure ahead of the creation of a wholesale electricity market.

Matthew Rosser, chair of the WA Sustainable Energy Association, said opposition to electricity reform meant the fate of Alinta’s project “must be uncertain”.

If the project does get up, it would demonstrate that only large organisations such as Western Power and Alinta could develop renewable energy projects in WA.

“Smaller independent renewable energy players will continue to be locked out because the electricity market does not provide the structures that allow equitable access,” Mr Rosser said.

Aspiring renewable energy producers have long complained that Western Power has made it difficult for them to get their projects off the ground.

Alinta and RPV are currently negotiating access arrangements with Western Power’s networks division.

Under the Government’s reform plan, the Economic Regulation Authority would have managed access to the electricity network, but this proposal has been shelved in response to Liberal Party and Greens WA opposition to the plan.

Western Power chief operating officer Doug Aberle said access arrangements were managed via a “very stringent, open, fair process, administered by a small number of expert people”.

“This access group is isolated within Western Power to ensure the confidentiality of all applications and their processing,” he said.

The proposed RPV wind farm, located 35 kilometres south of Geraldton, will have a capacity of 90 megawatts. By comparison, WA’s largest existing wind farm at Albany has capacity of 22MW.

Alinta will sell the output from the new wind farm, worth between $20 million and $25 million a year, direct to its electricity customers.

RPV is jointly owned by Perth-based Carbon Solutions, US-based National Power and investment group Babcock & Brown.

It is currently seeking financial close for the project.

Griffin Energy is one of several groups to lodge proposals with Western Power for renewable energy projects.

It is proposing an 80MW wind farm north of Cervantes. Its wind farm would be jointly developed with Queensland government-owned energy producer Stanwell Corporation.

 

“Smaller independent renewable energy players will continue to be locked out.”

-         Matthew Rosser

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