Wednesday 22nd Nov, 2017

Turnbull: Energy ‘guarantee’ to boost affordability

Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Creative Commons / Ash Carter
Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Creative Commons / Ash Carter

Energy retailers will be forced to secure a minimum amount of baseload power from traditional sources for every megawatt of renewable power they generate, under a new plan Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says will reduce typical household bills by an average of $110 to $115 per year over 10 years from 2020.

In a plan announced on Tuesday, Turnbull said the energy guarantee, coupled with an emissions guarantee program to replace the now scrapped CET, followed recommendations from the Energy Security Board.

“Past energy plans have subsidised some industries, punished others and slugged consumers,” Turnbull said. “The Turnbull Government will take a different approach.

“The National Energy Guarantee will lower electricity prices, make the system more reliable, encourage the right investment and reduce emissions without subsidies, taxes or trading schemes.

“It is technology-neutral, offering a future for investment in whatever technology the market needs – solar, wind, coal, gas, batteries or pumped storage.”

Turnbull emphasised his plan aimed not to “pick winners” in terms of generation types, instead aiming to “level the playing field”.

“Coal, gas, hydro and biomass will be rewarded for their dispatchability while wind, solar and hydro will be recognised as lower emissions technologies but will no longer be subsidised,” he said.

The PM was forced to defend the plan on Wednesday, after the Labor Governments in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia threatened not to support it.

Queensland energy minister Mark Baily said further detailed analysis was needed before the State Government could be sure it would deliver for Queenslanders.

“We understand how important it is to finally end the policy uncertainty that has prevailed under the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, but we need the Federal Government to work with the states in detail to ensure the proposal actually delivers for Queenslanders,” Bailey said.

“There has been no modelling undertaken to back up the proposal, including claims of bill reductions for customers.

“Given Queensland has retained ownership of its power generators, we are better placed than other jurisdictions to be able to be able to assist the Turnbull Government to honour its power generation guarantee.”

Turnbull bristled at those who questioned the $115 per household savings figure paraded by he and his energy minister, Josh Frydenberg.

“I can guarantee that the people that are giving those figures are the best-informed and the most knowledgeable in the industry,” Turnbull told ABC Radio.

Frydenberg said: “I think it is about time we took the politics and the ideology and the slogans out of this debate and focused on that expert advice. It could be more than $115.”