Last week the energy regulators (that is the four Commonwealth bodies) staged an affirmation meeting for the NEG. Firm after firm, and NGO after NGO all trooped up to say what a splendid idea it was and, usually with a few minor quibbles, they support it as the only way to give us the stability that would guarantee a low priced reliable electricity system.
Of course, Tony Abbott, ably supported by Craig Kelly was trying to spoil the party, especially in his address to the Australian Environment Foundation but was, so the Fairfax/Guardian/ABC phalanx maintain, irrelevant and simply a sore loser.
On behalf of the Australian Environment Foundation, I put in this submission to the NEG just to ensure that one voice of sanity was in the mix. A summary is as follows:
“Government policies, largely involving renewable subsidies, have caused Australian
electricity costs and prices to escalate and to become among the highest in the world. The NEG shifts the basis of the deleterious subsidy regime to become an emissions intensity scheme or carbon tax.
“Though ostensibly responsive to the Paris Agreement, the NEG is actually an industry policy proposal designed further to shift Australia to an “inevitable transition to a clean energy future.
“On the basis of harmful and cripplingly expensive subsidies, renewables have much
increased their market share. But their on-going need for subsidies, as well as undermining the industry as a whole and increasing prices, indicates an on-going lack of commercial competitiveness.
“The NEG’s claim to bring about policy certainty is not credible:
- The Paris Agreement is dysfunctional, applies to at best 20 per cent of global
emissions and will inevitably collapse.
- The political forces within Australia have vastly different aspirationsfor renewable
energy and coal.
“The NEG will not promote reliability since the absence of this is a consequence of the many interventions it seeks to pursue by alternative means. In attempting to proceed along this well-trodden path many billions of dollars will be wasted and prices to households and businesses will remain cripplingly high.
“The only sensible policy approach is for the government to unwind all subsidies and to call for tenders for new despatchable electricity generation on the basis of long term contracts.
“All these issues aside, the NEG is seriously remiss, even within its own framework because it:
- Does not reduce emissions at least cost.
- Discriminates in favour of some electricity customers and suppliers in favour of
Minister Frydenberg is off to Paris based International Energy Agency (IEA), Canada and Washington, inter alia to sell this abomination of a policy.
He probably has little chance of doing so in meetings with the US EPA, even though Pruitt has left, and should he bump into Ontario’s Doug Ford, the policy will be ridiculed. It would be great to think he was going to the IEA to announce Australia’s departure but this is highly unlikely and he will receive full accolades from Executive Director Fatih Birol.