Former Greens leader Christine Milne has called for the national electricity market to be “smashed” – or at least reformed – so that it can provide proper incentives for consumers to install solar and storage.
In a speech to the Australian Solar Council, Milne also accused the federal government of deliberately sabotaging the renewable energy target.
But it was the NEM that drew most of her ire, and the $45 billion that was spent on networks in the last five years because of greedy networks that managed to game the regulatory system.
“I know most of the focus is on the renewable energy target, but the National Electricity Market is what has to be smashed,” Milne said.
“It was developed in the late 1990s, at the height and excitement of neo-liberalism gone mad, it was about deregulation, privatisastion, efficiency, competition policy. All these were the buzzwords.
“But it took no account that, as it started, the revolution in energy was starting.”
She said the $45 billion spent on networks were not based on need, but on greed. But regulators needed to provide incentives to ensure that grids were adapted to the future.
“The networks need to be adapted to facilitate decentralised systems, tariff systems should be adopted that encourage and properly value demand management and distributed generation.
“This would be of huge benefit to homes, businesses, manufacturers.
“An abandoned, over capitalised grid benefits no-one. We need grids adapted to the future, because we need to capture innovation and we don’t want to leave the only people connected to grid are the poorest and most vulnerable.”
Milne recommended a raft of changes after the recent Senate inquiry networks, but the changes were rejected by both major parties. She said it was the second time the major parties had ducked the issue, based on their pandering to “vested interests” and because they saw tariff payments as an effective consumption tax.
Milne accused the Abbott government of setting up a $5 billion “slush” fund, with its proposed budget for infrastructure spending in the north of Australia, particularly on ports and rail facilities.
“You wait, that will turn into Galilee Basin railway, and ports, something or other to support Adani and Gina and the rest of them up in the Galilee Basin,” she said.
“This is a problem. A huge amount of money being pushed in the right direction.”
Milne also accused the federal government of clearly wanting the renewable energy target destroyed. “It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry and renewable energy undermines the business case for coal-fired generation.
“It should be no surprise to anyone that they put the two year review on the RET. That is what they intended to do. Don’t imagine that you are dealing in good faith (with this government).”