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EnergyAustralia boss says shift to renewables “a reality”, need for plan “urgent”

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One of Australia’s largest operators of coal-fired power plants has weighed into the national energy debate, calling for a non-partisan push to clean energy and reminding policy makers that the shift to renewables is “a reality” that must be addressed.

In a full page advertisement published in major national newspapers on Tuesday, Energy Australia managing director Catherine Tanna (pictured below) said the way the country generated energy “had to change”, and that her company – owner of the Yallourn coal power plant, among others – was prepared to do its bit to make this happen.

BG-Names-Catherine-Tanna-as-Australian-Chairman

“We believe all Australians should have reliable, affordable energy,” Tanna said in the letter, mirroring one of Malcolm Turnbull’s favourite energy sound-bites. “However, the way we generate, deliver and use energy has to change and I’m determined EnergyAustralia will live up to its responsibility.”

Tanna, who also spoke to ABC Radio on Tuesday morning, warned that as cheaper forms of energy – namely coal plants – retired, investment in newer and much cleaner generation technologies, like renewables, was crucial.

“As at today, newer forms of energy are more expensive than some of the older forms of energy, but over the next 20 years those older, cheaper forms of energy are going to retire.

“That’s a reality and that’s why we need a plan to transition into those newer forms of energy,” Tanna told the ABC.

“Let’s understand what the problem is, get the facts on the table and then altogether we have to work on solutions,” she said. “We need urgently a national plan to transition to a lower-emission economy.”

Tanna, whose company last year committed $1.5 billion to renewables development, including plans for a solar power station in Victoria and a wind farm in South Australia, was also keen to emphasise the importance of policy stability in driving investment in renewable energy generation.

“The single-biggest barrier to investment is uncertainty around policy settings,” she said.

“So when there is a lot of rhetoric about policy settings changing, no matter who it comes from, or a lot of flip-flopping about the fiscal assumptions it makes it very, very difficult for anyone to make a commitment to new projects.”

Tanna’s written plea and comments come as political debate on energy plumbs new lows; including the brandishing, in Parliament, of a lump of coal by federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, and threats of scrapping renewable energy targets and other policies from various state opposition parties.

It also comes as late summer heatwaves – that scientists tell us are becoming more intense, and more frequent, due to global warming – cause blackouts and bushfires around Australia.

  

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  • solarguy

    Well I wonder if anyone in the federal gov feels even a little stupid. Well do you Barmy, Josh, Mal and Scot or are you blind as well as deaf now?

  • john

    I note the managing director saying “The single-biggest barrier to investment is uncertainty around policy settings,”
    Now that is the real problem here would you as a CEO of a company invest in a country where you have no idea about the policy guidelines?
    As i have said before by presenting a situation of doubt about policy, no company is going to invest.

    The hoped for outcome from this moronic policy vacuum is that the Government will build a new Shiny Coal Fired Power Generator.

    If this is the best this country can do i just think what a deplorable mob of idiots inhabit this country.
    If you think this is good perhaps you should do a bit more reading, frankly i am really dismally appalled.

  • Greg Hudson

    I wonder how many Australians get fooled into thinking that Energy Australia (formerly TRU Energy) is an Australian company when it is actually owned by a Hong Kong business (CLP Holdings). If you are a customer of theirs, consider switching to a truly Australian owned company instead. You can find a state-by-state list here:

    http://ethicalswitch.com/ethicalpower

    NOTE: Ethical earns commissions by facilitating you switching, just like iSelect, or ‘Compare the Market’. (I have no interests, just providing the info).

    And what about ‘solar and wind’ more expensive than coal ? Prices for RE have now dropped below what the coal power stations can compete with, or am I totally wrong ?

  • Alastair Leith

    How many PPAs with wind farms did EA sign in the last five years, anybody? Actions speak louder than words. And calling for the feds to take care of matters when it’s clear the onus is on the states while Federal govt is a disaster for RE seems more like a blocking move than an enabling move.