Energy Umpire’s election preview: Where do the Major Parties stand on energy issues?

  • Energy Umpire’s election preview: Where do the Major Parties stand on energy issues?

    With the election occurring this weekend, we thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of what the Major Parties are promising from an energy policy perspective.

    Climate change is looming as a major battleground, with both sides presenting policies that include renewables and improvements to the energy sector.

    Whoever you choose to vote for this weekend, if climate change, renewables or energy are important to you, we hope you find this useful.

    Coalition

    The policy focus from the Coalition is on reducing costs for small businesses in particular, and specifically in relation to pricing, costs to individuals and businesses; and generation of electricity. No new policies appear to have been released in regards to renewables or gas.

    Key Points

    • A price safety net to protect loyal customers and help families and small businesses make empowered and informed decisions about their energy plans.
    • Big stick legislation to stop the big energy company rip-offs and ban sneaky late payment fees.
    • Supporting reliable power by requiring energy companies to sign contracts guaranteeing enough energy to meet demand.
    • Underwriting investment in new reliable power generation to improve competition, including Snowy 2.0, Battery of the Nation and a shortlist of reliable generation projects.
    • 25 per cent reduction in the National Electricity Market wholesale electricity price to less than $70/mwh by the end of 2021 with the Underwriting New Generation Initiative.
    • A new Energy Efficient Communities Program will provide $50 million through more than 2,500 grants to eligible businesses and community organisations, helping them save energy and reduce their power bills by installing new equipment or reviewing and improving their energy management.
    • The $50.4 million Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund will support up to 50 off-grid and fringe-of-grid communities and businesses to investigate whether establishing a micro grid is cost-effective and whether existing off-grid capabilities can be upgraded with modern technology.
    • This year we are providing a further $365 million for Energy Assistance Payments of $75 for singles and $125 for couples to 4 million eligible social security payment recipients – to help with their next power bill and cost of living expenses.
    • Our policies to support renewables include the Renewable Energy Target (supporting renewable energy to 2030), the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

    Labor

    Labor has focussed on renewables – including funding for individuals, communities and schools to implement them; and bringing down costs to consumers by adding more controls and additional powers and oversight to existing entities.  

    Key points

    • Give businesses the policy certainty to invest in clean energy by implementing Labor’s National Energy Plan. Labor will continue to pursue a bipartisan mechanism, such as a National Energy Guarantee.
    • Double the original investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) by $10 billion to support new generation and storage, concessional loans for household purchases of solar and battery systems, commercial community renewables projects and the transformation and growth of new and existing industries.
    • Futureproof our energy networks by creating a $5 billion independent Energy Security and Modernisation Fund. This will build and upgrade Australia’s energy transmission and distribution systems, including transmission links to Renewable Energy Zones, to unlock the supply of cheaper, cleaner energy.
    • Encourage the uptake of household solar and battery systems by setting a target of one million household battery systems by 2025 and providing a $2,000 rebate for 100,000 households on incomes of less than $180,000 per year to purchase and install battery systems, as well as low-cost loans for households.
    • Establish a Neighbourhood Renewables Program to ensure renters and social housing residents can benefit from cheaper and cleaner renewable energy. Labor will establish community power hubs to support the development of projects in local communities – such as solar gardens on apartment rooftops, community wind farms and energy efficiency upgrades for social housing.
    • Develop a Bioenergy Strategy with a $2 million investment to boost the development of this important industry in Australia. Bioenergy has significant potential to help Australia meet its emission reduction goals and reduce waste, improve energy security and boost regional development.
    • Establish the Solar Schools program to cut school electricity bills by allocating up to $1 billion from our expanded Clean Energy Finance Corporation capital to establish the program – supporting the creation of VPPs through virtually linked solar and battery systems installed at schools, to deliver electricity and other services to the electricity system.
    • Investing in renewable energy and batteries to grow jobs and cut power bills: this will help deliver 50 per cent renewables by 2030, which is expected to see the creation of over 70,000 new jobs.
    • Creating clean transport and infrastructure: a target of 50 per cent of new car sales being electric vehicles by 2030, creating a $200 million fund to rollout charging infrastructure across the country, and introducing responsible vehicle emissions standards.
    • Supercharge Australia’s battery metal manufacturing industry to support Australian manufacturing jobs and our drive to a clean energy future.
    • Abolish outdated standing offers (which are not the same between retailers), and replace them with a new ‘default’ offer consistent across all retailers.
    • Require retailers to reference any discounts to the new ‘default’ offer pricing, making it easier for consumers to genuinely compare offers and save money by finding the best deal for them.
    • Establish an independent Just Transition Authority (JTA) to plan and coordinate the structural adjustment response to future coal fired power station closures.
    • Deliver a $1 billion National Hydrogen Plan to create new jobs, support new businesses and supercharge Australia’s renewable energy industry.
    • Introduce a permanent export control trigger put downward pressure on gas prices and protect Australian jobs
    • Boost gas supply for domestic use by introducing a National Interest Test that applies to all new LNG export facilities or significant expansions of existing facilities.
    • Give the ACCC new powers to monitor prices and crack down on anti-competitive behaviour in the gas market that causes inflated prices, and to make the market more transparent and competitive.
    • Establish an expert panel, the Domestic Gas Review Board, to oversee the application of the National Interest Test and the permanent gas export control trigger.
    • Allow ARENA to support energy efficiency projects.
    • Re-focus the efforts of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to increase its support for energy efficiency projects.
    • Introduce a Manufacturing Energy Efficiency Accelerator program with a thousand grants of $20,000 for Australian manufacturers to engage experts to provide manufacturers with energy efficiency advice and support.
    • Develop an accreditation system for energy auditors and training programs for manufacturers.
    • Revitalise energy efficiency reforms at COAG to enhance COAG’s National Energy Productivity Plan, reform energy efficiency governance, support the harmonisation of state-based Energy Efficiency Obligation schemes, and revitalise COAG’s efforts to introduce a National Home Comfort Rating System.
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