Big Green Business

29 June 2014

RENEWABLE energy is becoming one of the largest employers in the Goulburn region, bringing much needed jobs to regional towns and bolstering the income of local businesses.

Divalls’ Earthmoving is just one of the companies reaping the rewards of renewable, the Clean Energy Council says.

Between 2013- 2014 Divalls’ turnover from renewables increased by 17 per cent and in the past 18 months the number of staff they have working on renewable energy projects has trebled.

According to John Degroote from Divalls’ the number of positions at Divall’s associated with renewable energy has grown from 16 to 48. The renewables industry now accounts for 27 per cent of their business.

“We have worked hard to prove our capabilities with developers and government organisations and to ensure the work and profits from renewable projects stays in the region with local companies,” said Mr Degroote.

“We are really proud that Divalls’ has grown from supplying equipment on renewable projects to being the head contractor. This industry is providing real jobs and opportunities for local families.

“There’s also a flow on effect where landowners living on wind farms invest in our business by doing work on their properties, like erosion control, dam construction, landscaping and building houses or renovating.

“We are only a small cog in the entire wheel out there, but we feel that without renewable energy Goulburn and surrounding areas would be a lot worse off.

“We urge local businesses to take a proactive approach and make the most of the income stream while it is here.”

Local windfall Divalls’ isn’t alone in enjoying the benefits of renewable projects.

Machinery, concrete, sand and gravel supplies, as well as labour, services and equipment hire are all sourced from local companies for wind farm projects in the region.

At Gullen Range near Crookwell at least 70 per cent of the 150 workers during the wind farm’s construction were locals, and $12.3 million was spent on goods and services in the local region. Another $5 million was spent on the local roads.

Goulburn plant hire company Tutt Bryant is another of the companies supplying plant and machinery to renewable projects including loaders, excavators, rollers, tractors and graders to assist with road works and cabling, as well as helping with oversized loads.

Tutt Bryant local manager Ben Zyla said the business engaged the services of a dozen or so local subcontractor companies to supply the needs of the Gullen Range wind farm site, as well as employing four local staff.

“Most of the local earthmoving businesses involved will have delivered over $2 million each of works to the project,” said Mr Zyla.

“This is a major boost to the local economy as there are very limited large projects on at the moment.

“Construction at the Taralga, Collector and Capital 2 wind farms will each require a workforce of around 100-150 people over two years and will require tradespeople specialising in concreting, earthmoving, transport and fencing.

The Clean Energy Council says the Renewable Energy Target is protecting consumers from the pain of rising gas prices, while delivering billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs for regional areas like Goulburn.

A report by leading energy market experts ROAM Consulting, was commissioned by the Clean Energy Council to look at the impact of the Renewable Energy Target under several different scenarios – an increased target, business as usual and a scenario where the policy was removed.

The Renewable Energy Target is designed to deliver at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity from renewable sources of power such as solar, wind, bioenergy and hydro by the end of the decade.

The policy is currently under review, a process which is creating uncertainty for investors.

The Clean Energy Council’s Chief Executive David Green said the study showed that removing the Renewable Energy Target would not only lead to higher power bills, it would also put $14.5 billion of investment in the Australian economy at risk – as well as 18,400 jobs that would be created by the policy.

“Removing the target would also increase its reliance on increasingly expensive gas and ageing coal-fired power, inevitably leading to less diversity and competition in the energy market,” he said.