Government calls for interest in generation investment program

underwriting, latrobe valley
Loy Yang, Victoria. Image: Dorothy Chiron / Shutterstock.com

The Morrison Government is calling for interest from power plant investors to encourage new ‘firm’ generation under its Underwriting New Generation Investments program.

In a statement, the Australian Government says the program has been developed to give the government an ongoing mechanism to support targeted investment that will lower price and increase reliability in the system.

“The program will be multi-phased and open over four years from 2019-20,” the statement reads.

“Each phase of the program will be tailored to deliver a solution to an identified market failure, consistent with the overall objectives of the program.

“Phase one of the program will begin in Q1 2019.”

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Existing coal and gas plants are eligible for life extensions under the underwriting measure, which reflects the Morrison Government’s resolve to secure contracts for power stations before the next election.

The mechanism, which was first suggested by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in July, has received criticism for deterring private investment.

Labor and renewable energy supporters say the scheme will push the country further from reaching its emissions target goals.

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Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the program would drive down prices for households and businesses.

“Our program will provide the government with a pipeline of projects that will allow us to bring targeted generation into the system in the right place at the right time,” Mr Taylor said.

“Only the Morrison government has a balanced and sensible plan to ensure affordable, reliable 24/7 power.”

The ROI process under phase one will be open from December 13, 2018 with responses due by January 23, 2019.

Detailed guidance on phase one of the program, including final assessment criteria, will be published prior to the commencement of a formal request for proposals in the first quarter of 2019.