Colin Barnett has joined a growing chorus of business and political leaders calling for Australia’s renewable energy target to be axed, saying the Federal Government’s carbon tax had made it redundant.
Amid a review of the target by the Commonwealth’s climate change adviser, the Premier said the scheme was “hanging over” WA and the Gillard Government “should drop” it.
Mr Barnett’s comments come as Australia’s multibillion-dollar energy industry warned the target was needlessly pushing up household electricity bills.
Under a deal signed by Canberra and the States in 2009, it was agreed that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity would come from renewable sources by 2020.
Mr Barnett said the Government was not shying away from renewable energy, but wanted to see it done “on a more sensible basis”.
“That won’t mean less renewable energy, it will mean a more sensible and logical development and bearing in mind the carbon tax was meant to replace all of these other schemes,” Mr Barnett said.
“The Commonwealth in my view needs to stop that.”
In a submission to the Climate Change Authority’s review, WA’s regional power provider Horizon said the target had left it with unnecessarily high costs which it sought to pass on to consumers.
Horizon also noted the target had destabilised some isolated networks by fostering the uptake of solar panels, saying “this challenge is expected to grow” as customers continued to opt for the technology.
Energy utility Alinta Energy, WA’s biggest domestic gas retailer, said the target effectively subsidised inefficient and unreliable wind farms and threatened the viability of base load power stations.
Alinta said the effect of this was forcing tariffs up and would push businesses out of the market, thereby endangering energy supplies.
The Energy Supply Association of Australia, which represents the $120 billion energy sector, said falling demand for electricity was making the target harder and more expensive to achieve.
The ESAA said unless the situation was changed, it could lead to a significant oversupply of renewable energy which would “cannibalise existing supply”. Did you know? $120b The value of the energy sector to Australia.
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