Abbott’s plan to ditch RET labelled “short-term gain, long-term pain”  

A report from The Guardian suggests that the renewable energy target (RET) prevents electricity bills from soaring, contrary to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s claims the it causes “pretty significant price pressure”.

Using data commissioned by the Clean Energy Council, the report states that the average household will pay $50 less on their annual energy costs if the RET remains in place. By contrast, if the target is removed altogether, consumers can expect to pay as much as $100 per year more over the decade following 2020.

Climate Change Authority chairman Bernie Fraser has voiced his displeasure with the government’s review of the renewable energy target on a recent appearance on the ABC’s Radio National.

“It makes me feel sick and disappointed. Policy makers need to look beyond short-term economic considerations and the interests of some of the big companies, and to longer term community interests. That’s what governments are supposed to do. Unfortunately, it’s not happening at the present time. It’s very disappointing that we are we falling behind, and we are falling behind what many other countries are doing.”

An expected hike in gas prices factors into the CEC’s data, with the increase in renewable energy reducing dependence on traditional energy sources. “The RET can help to protect consumers from the power price pain of rising gas prices, while delivering billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs for regional areas of the country,” said David Green, CEC chief executive.

When the RET was drafted it outlined the need for 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy, representing a 20% share of expected electricity use, and thus an equivalent reduction in carbon emissions. With a downward trend on energy consumption over the last five years, the government proclaimed the scheme as over-reaching and unaffordable. However the CEC’s new data model, commissioned by ROAM modelling, estimates a share of 22.6% from renewables if it remains in place.

With uncertainty over the program’s future it looks unlikely that the 41,000GWh target will be met, that in turn increases our reliance on fossil fuels and puts in jeopardy even the government’s minimum target for a 5% emissions reduciton.

The only large-scale solar projects that are proceeding are ones previously funded by now defunct renewable energy bodies or the ACT government, which has set itself lofty goals of 90% renewable energy independent of the national programs.