Networks push for renewable energy target to be dumped

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The main lobby representing the major electricity networks in Australia, the Energy Networks Association, is calling for the renewable energy target to be dumped and replaced with a “low emissions target” that would include gas-fired generation.

The ENA, which represents state-owned networks in NSW, Queensland, WA, and Tasmania, along with privately owned networks in Victoria and South Australia, says it has commissioned modelling from consulting firm Jacobs that shows that residential electricity bills will be $234 a year lower if gas was included in a “low emissions target” that included gas as well as wind and solar and other renewables.

“Jacobs analysis shows a typical residential electricity bill in 2030 would be lower under a 45 per cent (emissions reduction) target scenario with a Level Playing Field, than under the smaller 26-28% abatement target with our current, inefficient policy mix,” it says.

Details of the analysis, and how it came to such a conclusion, have not been released.

The Australian Solar Council said in response that it was clear that the big power companies, having failed to have the RET abolished under the Abbott government, are again trying to create investment uncertainty.

“We all know the damage the big power companies, the vested interests and the Abbott government did to the solar and renewables industry. We will not let that happen again,” ASC chief executive John Grimes said.

The ENA report comes as investment in large-scale renewable energy remains at a standstill, as major retailers still refuse to sign long-term off-take agreements. The only investment occurring is that driven by schemes such as the ACT’s reverse auction program and some state-based initiatives.

Analysis from UBS earlier this week showed that the retailers had little incentive to invest in large-scale renewable, despite the target, because more renewable energy would dampen earnings from their coal and gas-fired generators, and there was no penalty for failing to meet their targets. Instead, the so-called “penalty price” was passed on to consumers, with the revenue going to government.



  • Rob

    What they really want is a carbon price 😉

  • Keith

    What a disgrace. I assume that the Energy Networks Association hasn’t heard about emissions reductions.

    Clearly although Australia was a party to the Paris agreement, there is no commitment to honour it, or the Government would scotch this idea before it had a chance to cause the destabilisation it seeks.

    I suppose this might be a prelude to Australia refusing to sign up in April. The risks of continued denial are mounting. The US and Canada have just agreed to serious action as a result of Paris.

    • suthnsun

      I imagine they’ve wangled it to show the optimum comparison point , look a little further ahead and it won’t compare so well with very little renewables installed in the interim. Gas will definitely not cut it at this point.

  • Alex Rogers

    This is less surprising when you know that ENA is “the peak national body representing gas distribution and electricity transmission and distribution businesses throughout Australia.” Note the gas bit. Their chairman is the MD of Jemena Gas. Which is owned by State Grid of China and Singapore Power. They are NOT lobbying the government in the interests of Australian taxpayers…

    • solarguy

      Damn right their not Alex!

    • Waz

      The parallels between consumer groups and lobby groups are good for a laugh.

  • Chris Fraser

    THe ENA is by its nature, a representative of transmitters. Why would transmitters have a view on the generation mix and how much it pollutes ? I say just permit the agreed clean energy content be constructed in the first instance, and allow the gas investment we need be determined in the forthcoming shakedown.They just can’t leave it alone … what a disappointment !

    • MaxG

      … not a disappointment, rather “as expected”. Your’re not believing in Santa Claus, are you? 🙂

  • Tim Forcey

    Here, from the ENA website, is who ENA represents:

    “The Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the peak national body representing gas distribution and electricity transmission and distribution businesses throughout Australia.”

    So as well as electricity, there is a gas connection. Oh, no pun intended!

  • solarguy

    Newly built gas plant isn’t anywhere as cheap as RE and the bastards now it, they just want to sell their filth at our planets expense. Oh and prices won’t come down, it’s a con!

  • Waz

    I went and read the ENA’s release. They recommend gas as an alternative supply fuel to coal, and quote emissions of one-quarter to one-sixth. Low(er) emissions, low cost, reliable and available technology to meet our demands – doesn’t sound like a terrible idea – but under the current RET model, there’s no incentive to pursue this. In fact, it cements coal as our favourite fuel (see NEMWatch graphic). So I disagree with the Australian Solar Council’s comment that the ENA is simply trying to create investment uncertainty. That claim is unfounded.

    • david_fta

      Low(er) emissions, low cost, reliable and available technology to meet our demands – doesn’t sound like a terrible idea – but the unfortunate fact is, we need to get atmospheric CO2 back down to less than 350 ppm as rapidly as we can – which means there is no role for digging up any more carbon and putting it in the atmosphere.

  • BsrKr11

    These guys must really think we’re stupid. … a national association representing gas distribution commissions a study that concludes. … wait for it, it’s a surprise! YES!!! GAS should be included in a low emissions target!!! And the cherry on top to swallow this tasty morsel, you’ll be better off because of it!!! color me convinced, where do I sign up! ?