NSW parliamentary secretary for energy, Benjamin Franklin, says details of its new interest-free loans program to drive household investment in solar and storage will be released soon, and reiterated his government’s calls for the federal Coalition to take the National Energy Guarantee seriously.
Franklin told the Australian Energy Storage conference in Sydney on Thursday that the immediate priorities for the re-elected Berejiklian Government, include the Empowering Homes initiative that was announced head of the NSW election, but for which details are scarce.
As revealed by RenewEconomy earlier this week, the NSW Government will re-direct $50 million in funding from a now cancelled virtual power plant program to cover the costs of providing interest-free loans for the installation of residential rooftop solar and storage through the Empowering Homes initiative..
Franklin wasn’t able to provide additional information about the interest-free program in his conference speech, but hopes to provide further details about the interest-free loans program in the near future.
“This program will provide interest-free loans for owner-occupiers who want install a battery, or solar battery system in their home.” Franklin told the conference.
“A new solar battery system could save a home hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year in their electricity bill, and importantly more storage will enable greater penetration of renewables in the grid, which reduces prices for everyone.
“The program aims to unlock up to $3.2 billion in clean energy investment over the life of the program, supporting up to 3,000MWh of storage in to the NSW energy system when complete.”
“I look forward to providing more information about this scheme as work progresses on its implementation.”
Franklin reiterated the NSW Government’s support for the National Energy Guarantee, echoing the position expressed by new NSW energy minister Matt Kean at a CEDA event last week. Franklin expressed the NSW Government’s belief that markets are key to driving efficient investment in clean energy projects.
“We can’t address energy without addressing climate change.” Franklin said.
“The NSW Government continues to support the National Energy Guarantee. We will continue to support an effective and efficient national mechanism that integrates climate and energy policy, provides clarity and reduces investment risk.”
Franklin stressed that if the NSW Government was required to intervene in the National Electricity Market, its focus would be to deliver better outcomes to NSW energy consumers over those of market incumbents.
“The electricity system is just too big to fail. Put simply, it is unacceptable for the state to be left with insufficient capacity to address peak demand. Accordingly, if the need arises, the NSW Government will act. If we have to be a provider of last resort, if a power station closes, it will be to benefit the people of New South Wales, not market participants.” Franklin said.
“Of course it’s our responsibility to smooth the energy transition. We know, we will be judged principally by our ability to maintain a reliable system without price shocks. But we also know that a successful transition will also deliver lower emissions, encourage new technologies and services, and create a more efficient sector.”
With both Franklin and Kean clearly demonstrating that NSW expects the Federal Government to take the lead on developing a coordinated energy policy, COAG Energy Council will likely be the setting for further confrontations between states and federal energy minister Angus Taylor, who seems intent on sandbagging energy policy at the meeting of energy ministers.
Franklin was unsuccessful in his attempt to win election to the State seat of Ballina at the NSW election in March, but will remain in Parliament after he reclaimed his seat in the NSW upper house, that had remained vacant.