Victoria’s clean energy focus attracts stronger CEFC presence

The CEFC's Kevin Holmes (left) with CEO Oliver Yates
The CEFC's Kevin Holmes (left) with CEO Oliver Yates

Growing investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and strong Victorian state government policies have stimulated the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to establish a more permanent base in Melbourne from next year.

The organisation will be shifting into space at Mirvac’s 90 Collins Street office tower that was recently vacated by the Climate Change Authority due to its shift to Canberra. The CEFC has had a presence in the city since 2013, but had been working out of shared space at 90 Collins during that time.

Kevin Holmes, CEFC chief governance and strategy officer, said staff at the new office will work on both Victorian and national initiatives, and that staff from its Brisbane and Sydney offices will continue to support Victorian projects “where that makes sense and draws on the appropriate client sector expertise”.

“As Victoria becomes increasingly active in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we will strengthen our presence in Melbourne, complementing our offices in Sydney and Brisbane,” Mr Holmes said.

“The CEFC is a national business with investments across the country and a more permanent office in Melbourne will make it easier for us to engage with project opportunities in Victoria.”

He said the stronger Melbourne presence would also help staff better support project opportunities in South Australia and Tasmania.

Currently the organisation has 69 staff in total – 32 in Sydney, 34 in Brisbane and three in Melbourne. Mr Holmes said the organisation was growing, and monitoring market demand in terms of staffing levels.

“We’re considering our Melbourne-based staffing requirements in response to market and policy developments and would expect to be recruiting additional Melbourne-based staff in 2017,” he said.

Mr Holmes said that since 2013 the organisation had made more than $330 million in investment commitments in the state, contributing to projects with a value of more than $1.6 billion.

The figure includes $311 million direct investments in 12 projects, and $25 million in additional investment through co-finance and aggregation programs for smaller businesses and the manufacturing and agribusiness sectors.

Specific major investments during the 2015-16 financial year included its first green office transaction, the WorkSafe Victoria headquarters in Geelong; the largest local government transaction to date in the form of a $30 million financing agreement with the City of Melbourne; its first university clean energy transaction with $9.1 million of financing to the University of Melbourne for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades; and its first large-scale contracted/merchant hybrid clean energy development, the Ararat Wind Farm.

“Victoria accounts for just over 14 per cent of our investment commitments to date,” Mr Holmes said.

“We have already made significant investment commitments in Victoria and we expect that our activities will further expand in response to Australia’s emissions reduction challenge and policy opportunities such as the Victorian Renewable Energy Auction Scheme.”

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