Aspire to do more not less
GOULBURN VALLEY GROUPS BELIEVE GOVERNMENTS NEED TO BE HAVE HIGHER GOALS FOR POWER CHANGE
As debate on energy prices and reliability powers on nationally, local environment and energy groups believe recommendations from a recent review by Australia’s chief scientist could be more aspirational.
Chief scientist Alan Finkel last week delivered to the government a blueprint on how to end high electricity bills, more frequent blackouts and higher emissions.
It centred on a clean energy target for the electricity sector and new rules to make sure renewable energy generators have batteries or other backup to ensure greater reliability.
Goulburn Valley Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge said Australia could do better and described the recommendations as ‘‘soft’’, but still a step in the right direction.
He questioned the resetting of clean energy targets and ‘‘watering down what state governments are already doing’’.
Mr Lodge also stressed introducing gas and coal plants as ‘‘clean energy’’ was irresponsible and counter productive.
‘‘This is about phasing in of renewable energy.
‘‘To have in that same process a mechanism that’s providing subsidies for new coal plants, new gas and even existing gas plants, they’re all subject to the definition of clean energy.
‘‘And the subsidies that go with it and in my view that’s inappropriate.’’
Labor has offered cautious bipartisanship on it but seems likely to draw the line on setting the emissions level high enough to include coal.
But some on the government benches will only support a policy which encourages continued coalfired generation.
Mr Lodge said by subsidising new coal and gas plants, the nation would be locking in polluting generators for decades, describing it as ‘‘not smart’’.
He also questioned ‘‘implications’’ wind and solar were less reliable than gas and coal by needing storage capacity, adding ‘‘going soft on the electricity sector’’ would apply pressure to other areas like agriculture and transportation for regional areas like Shepparton.
The Goulburn Valley Environment Group’s John Pettigrew remained unconvinced the findings were the ‘‘total answer’’, but believed enough consensus existed for it to receive political support.
Mr Pettigrew hoped party politics would not weaken the recommendations put forward.
‘‘We think it’s a foundation to work from,’’ he said.
‘‘We unfortunately have been heavily dependent on coal, it does make the change a little more complicated.’’
He believed the Goulburn Valley was capable of playing a significant role in renewable energy and distribution in the future, being ‘‘a heavy producer of power’’.
We can do better: Goulburn Valley Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge.