Now we know why the NSW Government’s much vaunted Renewable Energy Action Plan was so short on details – they don’t actually want to implement it.
The plan was released in early September, with Energy Minister Chris Hartcher hailing the opportunity to create 6,000 jobs and attract $10 billion in investment in the form of wind farms, solar plants and other technologies, including biomass and geothermal.
Those estimates on deployment, jobs and investment were based around the standing large scale renewable energy target (LRET) of 41,000GWh. Turns out it was all a charade.
Just two weeks later, Premier Barrie O’Farrell wrote to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard urging her to redraw the LRET. O’Farrell, who once said they he would not mind if no new wind turbines were erected in his state, expressed horror that the LRET would require 5,000 more turbines to be erected around the country.
“I am concerned that this policy will further push up electricity prices, and given falling electricity demand, will result in a share of renewable energy generation far in excess of the 20 per cent,” O’Farrell writes in his letter of September 21, a copy of which has been obtained by RenewEconomy. (We put the words in bold).
Oh, the horror. So now the NSW government has joined its state owned utilities, and those of Queensland, and the conservative state governments in Queensland, NSW and Victoria who are acting against the LRET, either explicitly through opposing the 41,000GWh, or implicitly by introducing rules and regulations that ensure clean energy investment does not happen in their state. So much for bipartisan support.
O’Farrell expressed concern that the LRET will require wind farms and other renewables to be built at a time when demand had fallen. He said this would result in increased prices. What he didn’t say was that it would result in lower wholesale electricity prices, particularly for the coal-fired generation assets the NSW government is trying to sell (and to Snowy Hydro for that matter).
O’Farrell claimed that while the NSW government “had been consistent” on the acheivement of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020, “this must be achieved in a balanced and economically responsible way”. He also said the LRET resulted in a “policy overlap” with the carbon tax, borrowing from the same song sheet that has been prepared by all other companies, vested interests and lobby groups agitating against the LRET.