Using clean energy funds for Alcoa dubious: Greens

Australian Greens Climate Change & Energy spokesperson Adam Bandt today called on the Federal government to rule out providing any funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to fossil fuel projects to support the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Portland, adding that the pollution levels and economics of gas may put any such investment in breach of CEFC rules.

Mr Bandt and Victorian Greens Energy spokesperson Ellen Sandell said that, unless a clean energy solution can be found to power the Alcoa smelter, no public funding should be granted to the company and instead governments should work together to establish a transition taskforce to ensure a just transition for the workers, community and local economy.

“Clean energy funding should not be going into dirty fossil fuels like gas,” Mr Bandt said.

“The Greens fought to create the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to fund new, innovative clean energy, not bankroll established polluting industries of the past.”

“It is questionable whether a proposed new gas power station would meet the CEFC’s investment rules or whether the project would even be financially viable.”

“Aluminium smelters are energy intensive, yet Iceland has proven that they can be powered through clean energy. Iceland’s three aluminium smelters are powered predominately through geothermal and hydropower.”

“Unless a clean energy solution can be found to power the Portland smelter, no level of government should be pouring taxpayer money into the multinational Alcoa.”

“Industry Minister Greg Hunt should be honest with the workers at Portland that any attempt by the government to instruct the CEFC to invest in this particular project would be unlawful.”

“Labor and Liberal are offering false hope to workers and the Portland community. It beggars belief that they can even be considering using clean energy funding to build polluting fossil-fuel power stations that would lock in the need for expensive government subsidies and dangerous pollution for years to come.”

“Building a new gas station won’t make gas-powered energy cheaper. If the government builds a new gas power station to power Alcoa’s Portland smelter, Alcoa will be dependent on government subsidies for gas for the smelter to remain viable.”

“Instead of signing a blank cheque for years of taxpayer money to go to multinational Alcoa, governments should be working together to create a transition plan for Portland.”

Ms Sandell said that for industry-dependent communities have been left to languish for too long and that governments should be on the front foot in planning for the future of these communities.

“Portland could have a bright future with new clean industries, but only if governments plan and invest now for the workers and community. Both Labor and Liberal governments have so far completely failed to do this.”

“Gas is expensive and polluting and the State Labor government shouldn't be throwing taxpayer money at yet more dirty fossil fuel projects.”

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0429 109 054

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