AEMC report welcome, but loses focus on solar power, says CEC.

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has congratulated the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) for taking a balanced look at the power price debate in the development of its strategic priorities, which were outlined in a report released on October 23.

CEC policy director Russell Marsh said the AEMC report was a genuine attempt to explore some very challenging territory about the future of the nation’s energy market.

“The AEMC has made some important acknowledgements about the benefits of distributed generation, such as solar power, to all consumers – not just those who have installed the technology,” Mr Marsh said.

“As its report noted, some of the direct benefits of solar power include deferring the need for more network investment and reducing losses in the transmission of electricity, which reduce costs for everyone.”

The AEMC has released its report Strategic Priorities for Energy Market Development 2013, which was informed by consultation with industry and consumers.

Mr Marsh said the report was conflicted about the need to better empower consumers to control their power bills, while considering whether consumers who had taken positive action, such as installing solar power, could be charged extra for using the power grid.

“Cross-subsidisation already occurs across different sections of the energy market. The Productivity Commission has conservatively estimated that running an average-sized air-conditioner costs all customers about $350 per year,” he said.

“What we need is a balanced approach that doesn’t penalise one class of consumer – particularly when these consumers have responded in good faith to government incentives to install solar power to reduce their energy bills and cut emissions.”