The decision by Keppel Prince Engineering to lay off 100 workers from its Portland operation is the sad and frustrating result of months of uncertainty, along with continued speculation that the Federal Government would dump its long-standing commitment to the legislated Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) had already cost the industry and the Australian economy hundreds of millions of dollars in lost investment.

“These lay-offs follow others announced by renewable energy companies throughout the year, along with asset write-downs and frozen investments,” Mr Thornton said.

“The Federal Government has set its starting position at a level that it knows would decimate the renewable energy industry. In doing so, it has ignored analysis conducted for its own review that shows any reduction in the RET will increase power prices for consumers in the future.

“The casualties of this kind of game-playing are real jobs, as we have seen with the announcement by Keppel Prince Engineering. Victorian Premier Denis Napthine should be asking his federal counterparts some serious questions after these job losses were announced by a major employer in his electorate today.”

Mr Thornton said the clean energy and aluminium industries had already floated an idea that would support jobs in both sectors, without the radical proposals being put forward by the Federal Government.

“This would exempt aluminium from the Renewable Energy Target while leaving the level of the target unchanged – at a cost to households of just $2-4.50 per year,” he said.

“In contrast, the sharp reduction in the level of the Renewable energy Target that the government is proposing is a death warrant for large sections of the renewable energy industry.

“It actually means a two thirds cut in new renewable energy projects out to 2020. We urge the government to reconsider its position during negotiations with the Labor party.

“Our thoughts are with those Keppel Prince employees and their families, who will now need to find new employment at a time when jobs are hard to find, particularly in regional parts of Victoria.”

Please contact Mark Bretherton at the Clean Energy Council on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.