7 March 2012 ­– The Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell today (Wednesday) jointly announced that Sydney would be the headquarters for the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“Sydney has been selected because it has a strong clean energy sector and a network of financial, legal and professional services that will ensure the smooth set up and operation of the Corporation,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.

“Locating the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in Sydney’s financial sector hub will also help with the building of partnerships with lenders and investors.

“While Australia has many leading researchers in the clean energy field, in Sydney the Corporation will also be able to draw on higher education and research and development facilities across the state, including the CSIRO Energy Centre and the University of NSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy.

The corporation is chaired by Jillian Broadbent who is also currently chairing a an “expert review to advise on the design of the Corporation” with a report due later this month, the statement said

The Australian said:

Mr O’Farrell had been a strident critic of Ms Gillard’s carbon tax, but today declared he was “delighted” at securing her new green investment agency for his state,” on the announcement.

“The corporation, which the federal Coalition has vowed to axe, will create about 40 jobs.

“This is good news whatever way you look at it,” Mr O’Farrell said.

The Coalition’s federal environment spokesman Greg Hunt said he respected Mr O’Farrell’s position, but the Corporation would still be axed under an Abbott [plan]

The Premier has previously attacked Labor’s carbon tax, saying it will add $498 to the average NSW electricity bill in a claim disputed by the federal government.

He said today that he had accepted the will of the federal parliament in passing the clean energy future package.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said a $10 billion fund would “mobilise far greater private capital to actually build the solar power plants, the new, intelligent electricity grid and much more that will be at the heart of the clean energy economy.

“The CEFC will create jobs, it will drive investment, it will cut pollution and, as experience overseas is showing, it will put downward pressure on electricity prices.

“Since renewable energy has no fuel costs and very low marginal costs, it is far cheaper than ramping up coal to meet peak demand. This phenomenon, known as the merit order effect, is already proving a boon to householders who want cheaper electricity in many parts of the world.

“Tony Abbott should immediately drop his backward and short-sighted promise to abolish the CEFC and recognise that this is the driver of the future economy, not blind support for expansion of coal.

“I also hope that having the CEFC in Sydney will make Premier O’Farrell reconsider his negative attitude to renewable energy that has seen him slash support for solar power and restrict the growth of wind power while giving open slather to coal seam gas.”

“With electrification of vehicle fleets and the greening of cities, the demand for renewable energy will grow rapidly to the benefit of the places where the new, renewable energy power sources are built.”

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au