Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio has flagged the introduction of measures to stop electricity retailers in the state from discriminating against rooftop solar customers, as part of a “clear message” that the Andrews government was a friend to renewable energy.
Speaking at the Australian Solar and Energy Storage conference in Melbourne on Wednesday, D’Ambrosio said the government was in the process of developing a “robust, significant set of strategies” to support the state’s renewable energy industry and boost its share of renewables capacity.
While she would not go into specifics, D’Ambrosio said she had a vision of a forward-looking energy sector, underpinned by renewables and key supporting technologies – particularly battery storage – that would combine with energy efficiency and reduce the cost of electricity to all customers.
A big part of this, she said, would be encouraging the privatised retail and distribution players in the state energy market to embrace distributed generation and recognise that this shift did not have to undermine their business.
D’Ambrosio said that she had heard “story after story” from solar consumers throughout the state about the variety of barriers the distribution businesses had put up to discourage self-generation.
“Renewable energy is an unstoppable train – it’s not going away,” D’Ambrosio told the conference. “That’s something that all (energy industry) stakeholders should be encouraged to consider.”
As part of this “encouragement”, D’Ambrosio said the government would commission a review into the value of distributed generation in the state.
The minister pointed to New Zealand gentailer, Vector Energy, as an example of an established player choosing to embrace the shift to distributed energy, providing renewable energy services to its customers, and reaping the benefits.
More broadly, D’Ambrosio said her department was in the process of developing a roadmap for renewable energy, which would invite consultation and contributions from stakeholders on the best policy measures to help grow the state’s share of renewables.
This would form the basis of an “Action Plan” that Andrews the government would release later in the year.
The energy minister also said the government would also be developing a separate industry plan, to support the development of renewables and key supporting technologies, such as battery storage.
D’Ambrosio stressed, in particular, that the Victorian Labor government understood the importance of storage in the future energy equation, which would “transform the way all of us interact with energy.”