Defence of town in solar ‘fantasy’

POLITICIANS AT ODDS: Resources Minister Matt Canavan and Indi MP Cathy McGowan have opposing views on the importance for renewable energy.Cathy McGowan saysResources Minister Matt Canavan is “out of touch” when it comes to community efforts to embrace renewable energy.

The Queensland-based senator visited Wodonga last week to discussenergy security in businesses and said towns like Yackandandah, aiming to become 100 per cent reliable on renewable energy, were living in a “fantasy land”.

“I think it’s a misjudgment of the electorate from a minister coming from Queensland,” Ms McGowan said.

“I was so surprised for him to disregard the work of the people of Yackandandah and the partnership they’ve formed with AusNet …the minister is so out of touch that he wasn’t aware that industry was on board.”

AusNet Services has committed $250,000 to subside the cost of solar storage batteries for homesin a “mini grid” trial, before planning to expand the project to the rest of the town.

SenatorCanavan had advocated fora mix of coal, gas and renewable energy.

Ms McGowan said said government did not always have the answer and politicians should listen to community groups like Totally Renewable Yackandandah.

“What TRY is doing with Yackandandah is actually the way to go forward,” she said.

“The Liberal Party is quite ahead of the National Party on this.”

The comments from Nationals senator Mr Canavan were in contrast to Liberal Energy Minister JoshFrydenberg, who previous praised TRY’s efforts when speaking in Parliament.

Wodonga Albury Toward Climate HealthspokesmanDavid Macilwain said his organisation had “gravereservations” about the federal government’s commitment to reducecarbon emissions with renewable energy.

“We have to recognise that(coal usage) must be phased out if we have any chance of meeting our energy reduction targets,” he said.

“In the meantime, the answer must be gas-fired power.”

MrMacilwain supported the Victorian government’s ban on coal-seam gas mining, saying the country just needed to cut back on its gas exports to leave enough for Australians.

He saidgas-fired power should provideback up forrenewable energy, but the time for change was 10 years ago.

“Our fear is that the tipping points are actually passed so nothing short of a drastic reduction in carbon emissions is going to be much use,” he said.

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