DESCRIBING it as the largest step taken by the ACT Government to date to meet the 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell last week unveiled plans for a 200 megawatt wind auction to be completed in 2014.
Following the passage of amendments to the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy) Act 2011, the government expects to proceed immediately to release 200 megawatts of generation capacity to be awarded by reverse auction.
Mr Corbell announced the plans before opening the second Regional Renewable Energy Business Forum in Canberra and said they further cement the ACT Government's commitment to a sustainable, renewable energy capital.
"This wind auction will abate around half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum and will generate about a quarter of Canberra's electricity needs. This is approximately half of all emissions associated with residential electricity use," Mr Corbell said.
"A 200MW wind auction is expected to provide around 24% of the ACT's electricity consumption - which is equivalent to approximately 80,000 Canberra households - and will deliver around 40% of the required renewable energy investments required to achieve our 90% renewable energy target.
"Because of the Commonwealth Renewable Energy Target review, wind is currently a buyer's market. By moving quickly, the ACT can expect lower prices now than if we were to defer the required investments to a later time.
"The wind auction will be open to generators within the Australian Capital Region, but also to generators further afield in circumstances where they demonstrate exceptional local economic development benefits and competitive pricing.
"Opening up the wind auction to a geographically broader base means more competition, more innovation and potentially lower prices. But the conditions on broader participation mean this cannot be at the expense of local jobs," the Minister said.
According to the government, the 'ACT Renewable Energy Local Investment Framework' will soon be released as part of an effort to 'enhance opportunities for job creation' resulting from investments in large-scale renewable and a key part of the evaluation of proposals will be looking at how developers have positively engaged with local communities.
The cost of the wind auction is expected to be around $1.30 per household per week, which is part of the total $4 per week, already announced, as the cost of achieving 90 per cent renewables by 2020.
More information is available from the ACT Government's Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate website at <http://www.environment.act.gov.au/energy/90_percent_renewable>.