Joint statement urges cooperation at COAG meeting

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Representatives of Australia’s businesses, communities, environment, energy industry and workers have come together to issue statements calling on all state and territory governments to work together in good faith with the Federal Government at the COAG Energy Council meeting in late November to explore the potential of the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said it was important the meeting of the COAG Energy Council agreed to commence the detailed policy analysis and design of the NEG.

“With very limited detail in the current proposal, only a substantial analysis and design process will fill in the gaps and allow the energy industry to more fully consider the policy and its potential to drive new investment,” Mr Thornton said.

The joint statement issued by sixteen Australian companies has said that Australia is suffering unsustainably high electricity prices and rising emissions, and reliability and cost challenges will worsen if the retirement of aging generators is not managed well.

“The new private investment needed to turn the situation around will not be forthcoming without confidence in a credible, scalable, integrated and enduring long-term energy and climate policy framework,” the statement reads.

“To be a success, any framework needs both to sustain broad political support and to address the energy trilemma, supporting a clean and reliable energy system at the lowest sustainable cost. The guarantee is only a concept at this point, with much development required. But we are hopeful that this further work will identify that the proposed mechanism can deliver. Importantly, there are no apparent alternatives at present that are both potentially functional and potentially acceptable to all sides of politics.”

The statement urges a united approach to ensure that the overall energy and climate policy framework meets Australia’s needs, including:

  • Competitive, transparent and liquid electricity markets, and efficient investment to deliver the lowest sustainable costs to energy users
  • A credible, scalable and enduring settlement of climate policy for the electricity sector to help ensure Australia meets our commitments under the Paris Agreement
  • Confidence for investment in the full range of energy services we need to maintain an affordable and reliable electricity system as old generators retire and emissions decline consistent with Paris Agreement commitments
  • Comfort that any impacts on industry and the community are understood, equitable and well managed, including maintaining the competitiveness of trade exposed industries, protecting vulnerable households, and ensuring a just transition for electricity sector workers and communities.

“This important work needs to be progressed in a spirit of cooperation between all COAG Energy Council members. This is a complex policy and there is a lot of detail to work through before it can be fully evaluated,” Mr Thornton said.

“Any chance of this policy succeeding will be put at risk by the states walking away at this early stage of the process – or if the Federal Government continues to insult state governments who are leading by example and showing that renewable energy can deliver a reliable and affordable electricity system.”

In terms of the policy itself, Mr Thornton confirmed the renewable energy industry remained open minded. There is considerable detail to explore before the clean energy industry could have the confidence that this policy will be effective in underpinning new investment in energy generation.

“We look forward to the COAG Energy Council agreeing to proceed with this detailed work and we will continue to engage constructively with the Energy Security Board and the Federal Government on the potential merits and design of the policy.”

The statement was endorsed by the following companies:

  • Australian Aluminium Council
  • Australian Council of Social Services
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Australian Energy Council
  • Australian Industry Group
  • Australian Steel Institute
  • Brotherhood of St Laurence
  • Cement Industry Federation
  • Clean Energy Council
  • Energy Efficiency Council
  • Energy Networks Australia
  • Energy Users Association of Australia
  • Investor Group on Climate Change
  • National Farmers’ Federation
  • St Vincent de Paul Society
  • WWF Australia

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