Government’s Inaction on Energy will Hurt Consumers
We saw last week that while the Morrison Government still warns against the rapid transition to renewable energy that the market has other plans.
News broke that Australia will likely reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 without Federal Government intervention – hardly a surprise given that Australia is the sunniest continent in the world and the cost of building new renewable generation has plunged in recent years.
We’ve also just seen the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) make its biggest single commitment to a wind farm yet, and funnily enough, the Collector Wind project near Goulburn is smack bang in the middle of Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s seat of Hume. This is ironic given Mr Taylor has previously been a vehement anti-wind spokesperson, and yet right under his nose this government-backed project is said to provide up to 150 construction jobs.
But it would be misguided to assume that just because the market is still taking strides towards a renewable-dominated grid that Australia can afford to rest on our laurels.
Without a suitable federal energy policy that provides investment certainty for the clean energy industry and plans for the closure of coal-fired generators, it’s consumers that will be whacked with skyrocketing power bills and workers who will be left in the lurch following the sudden closure of large generators.
The fact is that Australia’s coal fleet is ageing and many large coal-fired generators will soon need to retire. We need to be building replacement capacity now to plan for these closures and the cheapest new-build generation is renewable energy backed by storage.
The Government’s lack of policy and planning for the future puts all electricity consumers at risk of copping the bill if a coal-fired generator shuts without adequate notice and leaves behind a generation shortfall. Simply: if supply goes down, we pay more.
We’ve already seen this happen. Following the closure of Hazelwood on too short notice, some of the big energy companies, including AGL, were able to exploit their market power and the reduced supply to gouge consumers to the tune of $3 billion.
If the Federal Government really cares about jobs and putting downward pressure on power bills, they would put aside their internal climate war and put in place a policy to boost investment in more clean, renewable energy and plan for the inevitable closure of coal-fired generators. A inability to do so will simultaneously hurt workers, push up electricity prices and fail to address the climate crisis.