COAG must deliver on all elements of energy trilemma without delay

21 November 2017

To reduce shocking energy prices and confidently deliver on our international obligation to reduce carbon pollution and transition to clean energy, ACOSS urges members of the COAG Energy Ministers meeting being held in Hobart on 24 November 2017 to come to an agreement.

“If the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is indeed the only policy that is currently on offer at the political level, then we urge COAG to negotiate in good faith and in a timely manner, with our children’s future in mind,” says ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie.

“We welcome the NEGs focus on affordability and reliability, but are concerned that the third element of the trilemma could take a backseat to the detriment of vulnerable Australians impacted by climate change.

“Given the scale of the climate change challenge, the emissions reduction target set for the energy sector will need to be more ambitious than is currently being alluded to by the Federal Government.

“We literally can’t afford further delay, but nor can we afford to ‘kick the can’ down the line when it comes to cutting carbon pollution.

“On affordability and reliability the devil will be in the detail.

“We need to see the modelling and hear from investors, generators and retailers to feel confident the new plan can deliver the savings so far claimed and to the households who need it.  

“It will be important to ensure the obligations of retailers are not smeared across bills as it will be low-income and disadvantaged households who will end up paying disproportionately more.

“It’s also important that the reliability measure does not lead to a repeat of unnecessary gold plating, invests in the right technology for our changing system and weather, and that the obligations is not too onerous on retailers that it leads to greater market concentration.

“In addition to the NEG, COAG urgently needs to turn its attention to delivering a real affordability guarantee, particularly relieving energy stress on low-income and disadvantage households. Affordability is about the size of your energy bill and the income you have to pay it.

“Greater focus on improving household energy efficiency, including mandating energy efficiency standard for rental properties will go a long way to reducing bills and improving health and wellbeing.

“Reforms to improve household capacity to pay are urgently needed including increasing social security payments, in particular Newstart, and improving energy concessions.

“Significant work also must also be done about the role of household energy generation. People who are better off and own their own homes are taking up technologies to generate their own energy at a rate that is seriously leaving renters and low income homeowners behind, while they remain paying more for their energy supply, and using more energy because of poor energy efficiency in sub-standard housing.”