Time for a circuit breaker in carbon and energy policy

ENA CEO John Bradley
ENA CEO John Bradley

Australia needs to “get its house in order” on energy and carbon frameworks if it is to meet the Federal Government’s post-2020 emissions targets announced without unnecessary costs to energy customers, according to Energy Networks Association (ENA).

Chief executive officer John Bradley said Australia’s energy system could meet, or exceed, the Government’s emissions reduction targets of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but the cost to energy customers would be high if policy frameworks were not fixed. Important energy reforms were required to meet the emission reduction targets at least cost, Mr Bradley said.

“Australia urgently needs electricity tariff structures that are efficient and avoid cross subsidies between energy users, while supporting a 600 per cent increase in solar PV capacity by 2034,” he said.

“Our energy system is already changing dramatically, with electricity consumption per capita falling by 25 per cent in the last 10 years and more than 1.4 million household generators now integrated to the grid.”

The Federal Government and COAG Energy Council should urgently progress commitments to electricity tariff reform and more co-ordinated carbon policies, according to the ENA. “Independent analysis shows without tariff reform, average electricity bills will be $250 higher in 20 years, so it’s vital we get pricing reform in place now to take pressure off consumers,” he said.

“Cost reflective tariffs would achieve an economic benefit of $17.7 billion by 2034 by avoiding inefficient investment in energy services.

Australia needs to meet or beat these emission reduction targets through least cost abatement measures that are ‘technology neutral’ and last more than one election cycle,” he said. Australia needs a stable investment environment, according to Mr Bradley, one that works with customers investing in solar and storage technology across 10 or 15 years, or networks investing in community assets for 50 years.