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The Renewable Energy Target (RET) Revision and its Impact on Ballarat's Regional Economy

15 Oct 2015

The Sustainable Living Task Team felt it was important to conduct a piece of work on the economic impact of reducing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) for both Ballarat and Victoria. There had been a large amount of debate in the media that had focussed on the clear differences in opinions between those wanting a higher target and the Abbott government, which felt the RET was an inhibiting cost to business and therefore looking at a lower target. However it was difficult to find the economic facts amongst the rhetoric from both sides. A member of the Sustainable Living Task Team, Craig Hurley and colleagues at Federation University, Karim Mardaneh and Paul McPhee undertook an analysis of the planned reductions in RET and how that would impact economically on Ballarat and Victoria.

As the analysis shows, the economic impact is not as great as many people would have believed. However, there is a negative impact, albeit small. This is a summary of the findings of the research but I encourage all members to read the report in detail as it is a comprehensive piece of work and we thank Craig, Karim and Paul for helping us get to the facts on this important topic. I must emphasise that the report was specifically looking at the economic impact of the changes to the RET at this moment in time and did not consider the future opportunities for renewable energy, nor the social and environmental impacts of a reduced RET.

The political landscape has shifted somewhat since the report was completed and although further changes to the RET are not anticipated, we do expect a more thoughtful approach to climate change mitigation from the Turnbull government. The Sustainable Task Team therefore will be seeking direction from the Committee for Ballarat Board in developing a stronger leadership position on the role of renewable energy in general and how it may benefit Ballarat and the region at a time when other forms of industry are struggling.

Tony Chew
Sustainable Living Task Team member

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