The Australian Greens today launched a plan to create special zones to help communities become world leaders in renewable energy, put downward pressure on electricity prices and boost regional jobs and investment.
"Our Connecting Clean Energy plan will mean cleaner air, more jobs and investment in regional Australia, and big cuts to the pollution driving global warming," said Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne.
"Based on extensive consultation, a national $2 billion task group would identify and create the new Renewable Energy Zones to help remove investment and infrastructure barriers.
"Renewable energy can also help combat rising electricity bills. Recent modelling by Sinclair Knight Merz showed that customers in Australia are on average likely to have a price reduction over the period to 2020 as a result of the Large Scale Renewable Energy Target.
"If Texas, the UK and Denmark all plan renewable energy zones to smooth the way to a clean energy future, surely Australia can too," said Senator Milne.
The Greens' Connecting Clean Energy plan would allocate $2 billion to a new Connecting Clean Energy Task Group in the Department of Energy.
The Connecting Clean Energy Task Group would:
* Map Australia's clean energy resources with the latest information;
* Involve local communities in planning their energy future from the start, by managing thorough consultation with communities, all levels of government, AEMO and clean energy developers;
* Where our world-beating clean energy resources and genuine community support align, set up Renewable Energy Development Zones with quicker approval processes for clean energy projects;
* Run a competitive tender to build grid connections from clean energy hotspots to the national grid, larger interconnectors between States, and to contribute financial support where necessary;
Connecting Clean Energy builds on recent Greens proposals to lift the Renewable Energy Target to 90% by 2030, boost funding to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to $30 billion over ten years, and ensure that householders with rooftop solar panels get fair pay for the energy they generate.
"Coal power stations are still reaping the benefits of a grid that was built, at public expense, to get electricity from the coal regions to the cities. It's time to level the playing field by connecting our cities to the amazing solar, wind, wave and geothermal hotspots our country is rich in," said Senator Milne.
"Experience in Europe and America shows that, if you involve the community in planning proposals early on, they welcome renewable energy developments. Thorough consultation is central to making the transition to 100% clean energy work."
"If we are to move to renewable energy fast enough to avoid disastrous global warming, and if we want to avoid wasted investment and community disputes, we have to plan sensibly, involve the community from the start, and make the right investments up front. That's what Connecting Clean Energy is about."