Smart Energy Council wages war against "anti-renewables" NEG | RenewEconomy

Smart Energy Council wages war against “anti-renewables” NEG

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Smart Energy Council promises “ruthless campaign” to fight Malcolm Turnbull’s NEG, which he says is “a lesson in how to do over the renewables industry while having acolytes fawn over the process.”

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Plus ca change

Australia’s Smart Energy Council has declared war on the federal government’s National Energy Guarantee, and specifically its lousy emissions reduction targets.

The SEC on Monday launched a campaign against an “anti-renewables policy” that it says could be “set in stone” for the next 12 years and would be worse than doing nothing at all. “It locks out the future and locks in the past.”

In a webcast “crisis meeting” on Monday morning, SEC CEO John Grimes called for industry to help fund a $500,000 “ruthless campaign” to either scrap the NEG – or substantially change its narrative.

Grimes was joined on the webcast by former Clean Energy Finance Corporation CEO Oliver Yates and Carbon and Energy Markets analyst Bruce Mountain.

Both Yates and Mountain stressed that the NEG, in its current form, would stymie renewable energy growth, prop up coal, and do little or nothing to reduce Australia’s emissions. It could also work to reinforce the position of the big retailers. (Read more on Yates’ and Mountain’s views here.)

The call to arms follows the latest COAG meeting in Melbourne on Friday, which as Giles Parkinson reported saw the states wave through a NEG that was even worse than first thought.

After the meeting, federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg made clear that the government was not prepared to move “one inch” on certain elements of the policy – namely its low-ball emissions reduction target of 26 per cent by 2030 for the electricity sector.

This was just the latest – and possibly most cunning – play, Grimes said, in the far right-led Coaltion’s game plan to push back investment in renewables.

“Malcolm Turnbull is giving Tony Abbott a lesson in how to do over the renewables industry while having acolytes fawn over the process,” he said.

“No blatant king hit from Malcolm, but the result is exactly the same.

“The government has been very smart in framing the NEG and focusing on retailers. They have to make sure that electricity is reliable and it meets emissions targets.

“As we’ll hear from our other speakers, these are nonsense, because Australia’s electricity is some of the most reliable in the world… and the emissions targets are so low … that (it) effectively means there will be no additional renewable energy required to be built between 2020 and 2030.”

Grimes also warned against the political and voter mentality that something was better than nothing, when it came to energy and climate policy in Australia.

His particular concern, and that of the industry in general, is that the NEG will seek to lock in low emissions targets, and it may be impossible to change them, at least before 2030. That would be disastrous for the industry, which could not rely only on a change in government for its future.

“Each time the Labor Party and other renewable energy groups have conceded ground to the government, in an attempt to achieve bipartisanship … the government has moved the goal posts and pushed for even more extreme policies,” Grimes told the meeting.

He said that while some states and territories – namely the ACT, Victoria and Queensland, after the loss of the South Australia Labor government in the March election – had raised concerns with the NEG, they had stopped short of shutting it down.

“Federal Labor, and the Labor states, have made a political calculation that being seen as collaborative with the government on the NEG is better than taking a strong stand.

“They’re kicking it down the road for more work to be done, and the government’s pushing for a decision to be made on this.

“I think that (the Coalition) think that they’re on a political winner with this,” he added. “Because they’re on track to pull off a coordinated, unopposed framework that locks in coal and locks out renewables,” he said.

“It’s up to us to change the game, to increase the political cost of all involved if they are going to lock in the existing NEG.”

Grimes said the campaign’s primary focus would be, not to scrap the NEG entirely, but to get the federal government to support stronger emissions reduction targets in the electricity sector – “north of 50 per cent by 2030, and additionality for state schemes.”

Failing that, Grimes said, the SEC would instead focus on petitioning state and territory Labor governments to oppose the NEG at the August COAG energy meeting, or to deferring the decision to later in the year, when state and federal elections were starting to happen.

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  1. Joe 2 years ago

    The loss by Labor / ex-Premier Jay at the SA state election comes at a price…the NEG.

    • mick 2 years ago

      too true mate i regard the re drawn seats as a gerrymanda good news in the upper house is one less conservative one green added,alt libs also

  2. howardpatr 2 years ago

    An image of the weak and hypocritical Turnbull fawning before Abbott over anthropogenic climate change.

  3. BilB 2 years ago

    Today I called my local Federal Senator’s office, Doug Cameron, and Mark Butler’s office to call for a Royal Commission into Australia’s Response to the Threat of Climate Change.

    The most common question asked at any seminar, lecture, discussion, etc on Climate Change is “how do we get this message through to politicians”!

    A Royal Commission is the only way to ensure that every politician in Australia is confronted with the true scientific, environmental, economic, and social reality of the threat to all Australians due to the dramatically changing climate that we are all now confronted with, and do this in the absense of priority vested interest bias, “persuasion” and propaganda.

    I will be following these calls up with emails and registered letters.

    I ask that anyone who has a love for all things Australian, and a sincere concern for the future well being of our children and their children, also make the calls to your local Members of Parliaments and make the same call.

    • mick 2 years ago

      minor parties need to kick this off because the retail brands wont touch it till the writing is on the wall

  4. Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

    They should lop off the obsolete “reliability” leg of the NEG (because the AEMO has already taken steps to guarantee reliability) and replace it with a leg that promotes better competition. They should probably lop off the low emissions leg of the NEG too, because with such pathetic ambition in that leg it’s really no better than a stump anyway.

  5. Just_Chris 2 years ago

    I actually like the concept of the NEG, it is very sensible
    to have a group of experts determine what is required from a system strength, stability
    and reliability perspective and then for that panel to have a mechanism that
    forces the market to deliver the technology. Obsolete? currently, yes, it is currently a waste of time but why on earth would you not have it in place to ensure that we never reach a point where the system is weak, unreliable and unstable? I am currently (like most Australians) enjoying my 365th “power cut free day” this year so if the NEG was going to change anything then it is clearly wrong.

    The other problem with the NEG is that it is simply not a mechanism to reduce CO2 emissions, it was never meant to be. It is a stability mechanism, the CO2 limits are only intended to stop the building of technologies that will have to be retired before the end of their useful life. The failure of the policy, in my opinion, is the failure to combine the NEG with a strong emissions reduction policy. It might be quite sensible to prolong the life of fossil generating assets, in particular gas turbines, via a subsidy if we require those assets so infrequently that it would be uneconomic to keep them otherwise open. Clearly this only makes sense if by having those assets around we operate at higher renewable energy penetrations otherwise there is no argument for the NEG.

    • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

      ‘It might be quite sensible to prolong the life of fossil generating assets, in particular gas turbines, via a subsidy if we require those assets so infrequently that it would be uneconomic to keep them otherwise open.”

      The gas turbines are already being misused… I noted as issue one day in SA where there were stacks of wind power being generated, and yet the gas turbines were still running causing an oversupply, and the excess was being exported to Victoria. I’m sure that was not the intention of having ‘backup’ gas turbines. They should be installing more batteries instead of wasting money on gas.

      • Just_Chris 2 years ago

        Under the new network rules the gas turbines where technically running to maintain frequency stabiliety in South Australia and South Australia was exporting excess wind generation to Victoria. If the connection to Victoria had been lost they would have turned down the wind trubines and left the gas running.

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