Industry lobby group the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) has folded after giving up the struggle to deliver value to its members in what it has dubbed a hostile social-economic political landscape.
In a surprise announcement from the organisation, established seven years ago to grow Australia’s renewable energy industry, the organisation wound up last November.
The association’s chairman Mike Laughton-Smith said SEA membership and revenues had fallen steadily in the past few years as the industry struggled to survive changes in government policy and economic factors.
“Despite the strong support of some key members and minimising operating costs, we have sought advice regarding our solvency and have had to stop trading. It is with great sorrow and profound regret I announce the organisation is winding up, with immediate effect,” he said in the organisation’s final hours.
“The board wishes to ensure a united voice, both at a state and federal level. SEA has always excelled at representing the West Australian sustainable industry and, in recent times, formed a strong alliance at a federal level through the WA Renewable Energy Alliance.”
The SEA held extensive talks with the Clean Energy Council (CEC) around maintaining a strong focus in WA, proposing the CEC establish a sub-division that will be called CEC WA. This directorate will have a WA-based committee and manager, while the CEC will provide operational support, overall management and governance responsibility.
The directorate will have its own independent branding and identity to clearly distinguish it as WA-focused.
“This relationship with the CEC should be seen as a win-win situation for all companies and stakeholders. A strong, unified, independent voice for Western Australia remains, which is now supported and resourced by the CEC, providing a unified sector voice at a federal level,” Mr Laughton-Smith said.
Following the announcement, SEA chief executive officer Dermot Costello expressed his disappointment on seeing the organisation finish up, but did acknowledge it was a major opportunity for the energy industry in WA.
“Alannah MacTiernan, Federal Member for Perth, upon hearing the news rang me, and some of her words were: ‘I have long argued we need a united voice for the industry – our best way forward is to be a chapter of a national body’,” he said.
“Our sector is at a decisive moment and the greater the unified voice we can project, the better it will be for everyone – both at a state and federal level.
“From the proverbial ‘ashes’ of the SEA we will strive to create a new, stronger body which the entire state, irrelevant of your area of interest within clean energy, can relate to, leverage off, and really benefit from over the coming weeks, months and years.”