Shooting for 100 per cent renewable energy is a worthy aim, but is not the most important conversation we should be having says an independent candidate for Eden-Monaro.
Andrew Thaler of Nimmitabel owns the 407kW Singleton Solar Farm, Australia's largest privately-owned solar farm, which has been in operation for 21 years. He is also looking to build a community solar farm in his home town on the Monaro.
He was in the crowd at Tuesday's forum at Tathra hosted by Clean Energy for Eternity, which was gauging public support for a 100 per cent renewable energy target by the year 2030 as worthwhile both economically and environmentally.
"The basic answer is yes [it's a goal worth pursuing]," Mr Thaler said.
"But it's ignoring the pragmatic reality that the Bega Valley and much of the Monaro is already mostly reliant on renewable energy."
For arguments sake Mr Thaler estimated power usage for Bega, Cooma, Jindabyne and Eden with the chip mill around - "let's be generous" - 5MW each.
"Boco Rock Wind Farm - which exports its power into the Cooma substation - was outputting 25MW on the night of the CEFE meeting," he said.
Solar is not an electoral cycle investment - we have to be thinking for our childrenAndrew Thaler, independent candidate for Eden-Monaro
"The Bega Valley already uses extremely high levels of renewable energy.
"The problem is when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. That's the reality. Just like coal stations won't produce power if there's no coal to burn.
"Throwing $10million at the problem doesn't answer that."
Mr Thaler said an answer needed to be further investment into a stronger and more reliable grid - more power lines, more inter-connectors, and reducing vulnerabilities like Bega's sole reliance on the Cooma substation.
"And if there's a push to a high-penetration electric vehicle market, how do we pay for road maintenance? It's funded by fuel excise. Will the government then need to increase energy costs to cover it? Or increase vehicle registration?
"These are the political discussions we should be having."
Mr Thaler said lessons he's learned from many years in the energy sector were worth heeding by both major parties.
"We kicked off with an announcement by the Daley Labor opposition that omitted batteries from the conversation, it was all just solar," he said.
"The the Liberals countered with an announcement about interest-free loans for solar and batteries.
"Labor then come up with an idea for a government-owned solar generation company - the last thing the industry needs is government-backed competition.
"Government should regulate the industry and let private and commercial operators keep it competitive.
"I call it pendulum politics, swinging from the two extremes.
"We don't want these wild promises. Solar is not an electoral cycle investment - we have to be thinking for our children."