Plea for states to stand united on renewables
Powerful industry groups across the cement, meat processing and food and groceries industries say state-based renewable energy targets in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT will add unnecessary complexity and costs to businesses, as all states work towards a national energy guarantee.
As state energy ministers prepare for the Council of Australian Governments meeting on Friday where they will decide if work will continue on the guarantee, the two states and the ACT are standing firm on keeping their own, standalone renewable energy targets.
Queensland is pursuing a target of 50 per cent by 2030, while Victoria seeks a 40 per cent target by 2025. The ACT wants a 100 per cent RET by 2025.
But a host of large-scale industry groups that fear the state-based RETs will complicate the national approach and trigger higher energy costs, have implored the states not to splinter and to instead, stick to a single national framework.
“We’ve already seen what happens when states pursue different strategies, and it’s obvious we need a single, united approach,” Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia chief executive Kim Slattery said.
“Having these individual targets in addition to the broader framework will just create duplication, confusion and through that duplication you have additional costs. We need a single national framework.”
The Australian Food and Grocery Council backed the call, arguing that industry members needed certainty, and state-based frameworks compromised that.
“Where energy policy has worked well in the past is when states have come together. Where it has failed is when they pursue their own interests, leading to a lack of co-ordination and certainty, which has driven up energy prices,” grocery council chief executive James Mathews said.
Meat processors represented by the Australian Meat Industry Council said they were particularly concerned about how statebased renewable energy targets could skew investment.
Several processors have invested in their own energy sources, such as cogeneration plants or biofuel capture, but are uncertain about the economics of their investment because of uncertainty about the price of renewables, meat council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said.
“While the states and territories muck about on who has the best energy policy, the companies that are employing the locals are shouldering the burden and investing in their own energy supply, but they’ve got no certainty about the future of the investment,” Mr Hutchinson said.
Some energy experts have warned that aggressive renewable energy targets could put larger coal and gas-fired power plants out of business, triggering higher prices and more intermittent electricity across the board, as they had in South Australia.
Mr Slattery said any additional price drops in states with their own renewable energy targets — beyond what the guarantee could deliver — was likely to be “wishful thinking”.