The renewable energy target threatens the viability of big Tasmanian businesses, Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council chief executive officer Jeremy Kouw says.
“The bottom line is that energy intensive, trade exposed businesses have their viability put at risk by this scheme, even after the current partial exemption is applied . . .,” Mr Kouw said in an opinion piece for The Advocate.
” . . . if the resulting pressure on these businesses’ bottom lines remains for long enough, eventually the businesses close.”
The RET was started by the former Howard government to boost renewable energy use through subsiding renewables projects.
The Abbott government is having the scheme reviewed and might axe it altogether.
Many Coalition MPs and businesses are arguing for exemptions for businesses which use particularly large amounts of energy, like aluminium producers.
Mr Kouw said Tasmanian businesses in the Big Picture major employers’ group already got most of their energy from renewable hydro and wind power, Mr Kouw said.
“With closure of any one of these businesses, the electricity load disappears, the revenue generated by [Hydro Tasmania] and TasNetworks disappears, but the gap created in the global commodity market is quickly filled by another international producer.”
“If that international commodity producer’s energy source happens to be based on fossil fuels, the net effect for the environment is an increase in emissions.
“This creates a significant risk of emissions leakage, which is a diabolical problem.
“Certainly not the environment and not the Tasmanian economy and its people.”
Big Picture includes Nyrstar, Grange Resources, Bell Bay Aluminium and Norske Skog.
It wants the RET retained, but with changes.
Those include making energy intensive, trade exposed industries fully exempt.
“It is time for Tasmania’s struggling manufacturing and mining sector to stop the ongoing subsidisation of the renewable energy sector,” Mr Kouw said.
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