Eric Ripper buries renewable energy industry: Signed commitment of May 2002 wasn't worth the paper it was printed on

June 30, 2003 - Minister for Fossil Fuels Eric Ripper has formally reneged on a signed commitment to the renewable energy industry last year that the Government would implement an access regime to allow renewable energy suppliers access to the Western Power grid.

The backdown was admitted in Parliament last night, confirming that the renewable energy industry will be held in limbo while the Government attempts its risky strategy of breaking up Western Power, with unknown consequences for customers, employees and independent suppliers alike.

Minister Ripper's letter of last May stated: 'I am concerned to ensure that the new arrangements do provide what is intended and do not provide what might be called 'Claytons' arrangements. The arrangements will be protected from arbitrary decision making by Western Power.'

Last night in Parliament it was revealed that even 'Claytons' arrangements are beyond the Government's ability to deliver: 'It is not presently intended that Western Power be implement an access regime for the renewable energy sector.' (Question on Notice no. 817)

'The Government has finally hit bottom', Greens (WA) energy spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said this morning. 'The Premier is swanning around promising a bright future for coal while Minister Ripper is intent on smothering any possibility of renewable energy taking off in WA.

'Meanwhile the State is suffering the early effects of global climate change and the Greenland ice sheet is melting. What is it going to take for this Government to join us in the real world and show some leadership?'

The announcement comes shortly after the release of an important review of renewable energy technologies by the International Energy Agency (IEA) which states:

'Renewable energy is proving to be commercially viable for a growing list of consumers and uses. Renewable energy technologies provide many benefits that go well beyond energy alone.'

'Properly understood and exploited, the attributes of renewables could undoubtedly form the basis for re-engineering the electricity production and delivery process to create cost reductions in ways that cannot yet be imagined.'

International Energy Agency: 'Renewable Energy into the Mainstream'

'At an international level there are some really exciting developments taking place,' Mr Chapple said. 'In Western Australia our future is being held hostage to a small clique of economic rationalists who won't move beyond the coal age.

Please contact us for a copy of the Minister's letter and last night's Parliamentary Question

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