Windy debate questions natural power

AN independent body, appointed by the Government to speak on behalf of regional South Australians, has reported that farmers with land near wind-driven power stations are facing lower profits and falling land values.

The report from the Regional Communities Consultative Council (RCCC) came as groups gathered to give evidence during a parliamentary investigation into the social and economic effects of the wind-powered station, which highlighted the clash taking place between the energy industry and primary production sector.

RCCC chair Peter Blacker said among the problems with wind-driven power stations was their capacity to create marine disturbances because of a proposed under-sea cable across Gulf St Vincent.

"I fly across that very regularly and there is nearly always a ship or two anchored out there, so clearly they would have to go further north to come around that shipping basin," he said.

"There is the prawn industry, coastal protection, marine parks, the whole works."

The Australian Energy Market Operator told the enquiry there was a large discrepancy between the installed capacity of wind-driven turbines and the actual power they could reliably or consistently deliver.

Inquiry chair and Liberal Agriculture spokesman David Ridgway said there were many questions that needed to be answered when putting together the possible economic loss to primary production, government subsidies to the wind industry and wind's inability to reliably cope with periods of peak demand.

"The investigation will soon travel to the Yorke Peninsula where according to one submission about 800 square kilometres of prime cropping land would be impacted by the proposed giant Ceres project, which is now awaiting Ministerial approval," he said.

"It would be very prudent for the Government to see what the committee recommends before giving this 200-turbine power station the tick-off.

"We've heard that each turbine receives up to $350,000 worth of federal subsidies through renewable energy certificates, and that has to be paid through higher power prices.

"We must be cautious of losing valuable primary production in case we compound this economic impact."


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