I’m a bit of an agnostic when it comes to new electricity generation technology – I’m all for a sensible energy mix – because it is already and will continue to drive investment in rural regional NSW and ultimately drive down the cost of power.
The winds of change are pushing demands for a greater focus on renewable energy and nowhere is that more evident than in country areas and particularly in our part of the world.
We have gone from having no large-scale energy generation, to the construction and commissioning of some of the largest facilities in Australia, capable of powering hundreds of thousands of homes.
Now we have the opportunity for a progressive new policy framework through the National Energy Garantee (NEG) while balancing the needs of community and the onus is for government action to support new investment in new power generation and deliver least cost energy to customers.
The Northern Tablelands and the greater New England is strategically placed to deliver some of that and play to our strengths now where we see big energy builders wanting to invest in regional areas.
We are seeing a focus on renewable energy and breakthrough projects - just look at Moree, at Boggabilla, at Inverell and Glen Innes, and Armidale, where solar and wind projects are tangible examples of progress.
That’s the miracle of renewable energy. It’s not just that we can generate power from renewable sources, like the sun and wind; it’s that we can harvest this energy in our own big backyards, generating jobs and adding another robust source of revenue to local economies.
A recent Climate Institute survey suggests that our communities want action, change and a greater focus on new found technological and infrastructure projects.
There are environmental and huge economic gains – hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, job opportunities and diversification of our local economies – positives that our communities have been seeking for many years.
There’s been a lot of navel gazing from governments and politicians about energy while we here have only scratched the surface of the enormous potential in our region.
For the first time in our region’s history, we are on the cusp of being a net exporter of energy, reversing the historic trend and building wealth in our communities.
Renewable energy just makes sense – on any measure. It is all happening for renewables and we are powering along. We need to keep our foot on that pedal too and not just traditional generation methods.
- Adam Marshall is the State Member for Northern Tablelands and Minister for Tourism and Major Events.