A Hobbled Renewable Energy Target? - Energy Matters
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It's been reported Prime Minister Tony Abbott will attempt to set Australia's Renewable Energy Target at a level that in effect would end the program. Business Spectator states the Australian Financial Review says a meeting on the weekend between the Prime Minister, Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has resulted in decision that the RET should be closed to new entrants and existing large-scale projects be grandfathered. "Prime Minister Abbott is completely out of touch with the community on this issue," said John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council.
The ASC and other trade bodies will step up their efforts to prevent such a situation from occurring. If the Government does get its way (assuming the AFR report is correct); there could be a nasty sting in the tail of such a move for the Coalition aside from the impacts at the next election. Infigen Energy's Miles George says the renewable industry faces destruction if the RET is reduced and this will result in not only job losses and company failures, but possibly also legal action.
Even if an attempt made to slash or abolish the RET should fail; solar supporting voters may not forget it. According to Mercom Capital Group and based on data from Australia's Clean Energy Regulator, Australia had 1,274,785 rooftop PV systems representing 3,586 MW of installed PV capacity as of July 2014. Millions of Australians now work or live under a solar rooftop. The rise of solar in Australia has been phenomenal - but there is still an ocean of panel-less rooftops in the country and many more households wanting to make the switch to solar in order to save on their power bills.
The RET provides support for the purchase systems and can reduce the cost by thousands of dollars. While provisions under the Renewable Energy Target are generous, the related impact on power bills is little and the benefits many. The only parties to really benefit from the scaling back of the RET will be polluting power companies and those with an ideological axe to grind against clean, renewable power.
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