The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) may fight back against the federal government’s war on renewables, with some claiming the Prime Minister is overstepping his authority.
Last month, the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation was ordered to stop investing in wind farms, in favour of “new and emerging” technologies.
However, director of the Central West NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative (CENREC) Rachel Young said the government has limitations in regards instructing the CEFC on what it can and cannot fund.
“The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has basically come out and said ‘we are just not sure whether the Prime Minister has the authorisation to tell us what we can and cant invest in’. Because their enabling legislation requires them to invest in financially viable renewable projects,” Ms Young explained.
“So the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has gone ‘Well our rules say something different to what you’re [the government is] saying”.
Former Greens member for Bathurst and CENREC board member Tracey Carpenter believes Tony Abbott does not have legitimate reasons to try and nobble the CEFC.
“The Prime Minister has suggested that the clean energy finance corporation stop funding wind and solar power – for reasons mainly of his personal aesthetics it would seem… So it really is a question of whether they can comply with the captain’s call on that,” Ms Carpenter expressed.
These ‘personal aesthetics’ likely refer to the Prime Minister’s recent attack on wind farms, claiming they have health effects and are “visually awful”.
Mr Abbott instead would prefer the CEFC to fund only large-scale solar and undeveloped technologies such as wave and tidal energy.
He has stated his reasoning for this direction is that wind farms and small-sale solar can easily attract private funding, whereas these “new and emerging technologies” might not otherwise be financed.
But with the Prime Minister reportedly intending the CEFC be abolished eventually, Ms Carpenter believes he is pushing Australia further away from tackling climate change.
“In terms of reaching any emissions reduction targets that the rest of the world is expecting Australia to meet, it really puts us back to square one,” she said.
If the CEFC were to no longer operate, Ms Carpenter stressed the Central West “would cease to have any major renewable energy projects that are supported”.
“So we’d lose a significant amount of investment and jobs in the region”.