The expansion of the role of the National Wind Farm Commissioner's to that of Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner is a welcome step to ensure the significant investment in Australia's electricity network is well planned, managed and has strong community engagement and support.
The Commissioner has played a valuable role in the renewable energy sector by sharing information, promoting best practice and working with industry and communities.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said wind developers recognised that community support was essential to the industry's success as a whole. As a result, the industry has made this a significant focus in how it goes about planning and developing projects.
"The wind industry has made a concerted effort in recent years to lift the quality of its community engagement practices, and this focus is reflected in a reduction in complaints made by community members over time, despite increasing levels of activity," said Thornton.
In 2019, the Commissioner's role was expanded to include large-scale solar and storage. In that year, the Commissioner received 75 new complaints nationwide, a number of which related to construction matters in a year with substantial construction activity. The vast majority of complaints received during the year concerned proposed wind farms (including projects under construction), with only five complaints relating to operating wind farms.
"While we must continuously strive for excellence, it's clear that these levels of complaints are fairly low considering that the industry has deployed or committed to 17.6 GW of generation worth $32.7 billion since 2017," said Thornton.
"The Commissioner has played an important role in supporting this continuous improvement effort, and we look forward to his contribution to best practice within the transmission sector, which is a vital partner of the electricity generation sector.
"A 21st-century economy needs a modern electricity network that supports reliability, security and lower emissions technologies and delivers low-cost energy to consumers.
"Upgrades in our transmission network are required urgently. Planning and development must take place in consultation with local communities to deliver outcomes that are both fair and equitable."
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Clean Energy Council Media Manager
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