The new National Energy Guarantee launched

Member for Hume Angus Taylor.
Member for Hume Angus Taylor.

The Turnbull Government launched its new National Energy Guarantee (NEG) this week to positive and negative comment. 

Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor said it would deliver more affordable and reliable electricity while meeting Australia’s international commitments.

Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor says the Turnbull Government’s new National Energy Guarantee will deliver more affordable and reliable electricity while meeting our international commitments.

“Our plan will help keep the lights on by putting in place a reliability guarantee. This will ensure that Australian families and businesses can access the reliable baseload energy they need - when they need it,” he said.

“We are putting the obligation on the retailer to keep enough reliable and affordable energy in the system.

“We will also meet our international commitments as emissions will be reduced over time, consistent with our Paris target.

“It is not a trading scheme, it is not a carbon tax, it does not subsidise any particular technology – this levels the playing field, there are no subsidies.

“We don’t need a Clean Energy Target because the National Energy Guarantee will ensure reliability, while lowering emissions, without costly subsidies.”

He said the National Energy Guarantee – a recommendation of the Energy Security Board (ESB) - would give certainty to investors and encourage investment in all forms of power.

“This means electricity bills will be lower than currently forecast and lower than they would have been under a Clean Energy Target,” Mr Taylor said.

“I under understand many families and businesses in Hume are doing it tough and this Guarantee will provide cost-of-living relief.”

The Guarantee is made up of two parts that will require energy retailers across the National Electricity Market to deliver reliable and lower emissions generation each year:

  • A reliability guarantee will be set to deliver the right level of dispatchable energy (from ready-to-use sources such as coal, gas, pumped hydro and batteries) needed in each state. It will be set by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
  • An emissions guarantee will be set to contribute to Australia’s international commitments. The level of the guarantee will be determined by the Commonwealth and enforced by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).

“Unlike previous approaches, we are not picking winners, we are levelling the playing field,” Mr Taylor said.

“Coal, gas, hydro and biomass will be rewarded for their dispatchability while wind, solar and hydro will be recognised as lower emissions technologies but will no longer be subsidised.”

The National Energy Guarantee built on the short and medium term plans already in place.

“The Guarantee builds on our existing energy policy which involves the retailers offering consumers a better deal, stopping the networks gaming the system, delivering more gas for Australians before it's shipped offshore and the commencement of Snowy Hydro 2.0 to stabilise the system,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said Labor had no plan for reliable energy and can’t break free from the world of subsidies and taxes.

“They want to impose reckless and irresponsible renewable energy targets that would drive up prices and undermine reliability,” he said.

“They’ve given no thought to the reliable energy needed to keep the lights on when the sun isn’t shining or wind blowing.  Their plan to give billions of dollars of subsidies will only leave you and your family paying more.”

The Goulburn Group responds to new National Energy Guarantee 

Meanwhile The Goulburn Group (TGG) called it “a bone thrown to the electorate.” 

“There should not be an energy crisis in Australia. No matter how much we love to hate the retailers, the fact that we have a crisis is due the ineptitude of successive Governments over the last 17 years. Our transition from coal to renewable energy has been badly managed from the start,” TGG president Mhairi Fraser said. 

“The latest example is the bone thrown to the electorate this week. Thanks to the new National Electricity Guarantee (NEG) we will all be two dollars a week better off.  But not until 2020! In the meantime retailers have become the “bad guys” while Turnbull and Frydenberg front the cameras trying to look like the Government is doing something constructive.

“Business and households need more than a bone. We need more than fear mongering about “despatchable energy” and “subsidies". The NEG may work a bit but it probably won’t. We’ll lose another few years courting coal.

“Angus Taylor offers nothing new. He has long opposed wind energy projects in the Hume electorate touting gas as the transition fuel on the way to a clean energy future. With CSG unpopular with the public, gas prices soaring, business and scientific advice ignored, he and the rest of the LNP are starting to look arrogant and out of their depth.

“That is, unless the NEG is not really about our energy bills at all. The only sense TGG can make of the Government's reluctance to develop a progressive and stable policy environment to reduce both energy costs and emissions,  is their indebtedness to the coal and gas lobby. Getting re-elected is more important than getting Australia set up for the future. It’s disgraceful.”

Community Energy for Goulburn express concerns 

Community Energy For Goulburn (CE4G) are also concerned about what the NEG will actually achieve. 

“There have been so many changes in energy policy over the last 10 years that it is impossible to predict what will happen from year to year,” said Ed Suttle, President of CE4G.

“Each change in policy creates uncertainty in the market and makes it extremely difficult to plan a long-term business case for any new energy projects, especially small scale ones like the Goulburn community-owned solar farm,” he said.

“The newest version announced by the government and backed by local MP Angus Taylor goes against the advice of its own appointed expert. The chief scientist, Alan Finkel, who was appointed by this government, advised on a completely different approach, specifically regarding a Renewable Energy Target, that even the Prime Minister supported not long ago.

“It appears Malcolm Turnbull has to keep on coming up with alternative solutions to keep some of the climate deniers in his party happy or there’ll be yet another change of leadership.

“I think we all know that, deep down, Mr Turnbull is probably very uncomfortable with this new policy. It certainly looks like yet another decision made on the run.

“Angus Taylor says that this new initiative will bring the prices down and make the energy supply more reliable, but who really knows that will happen? We have very few details.  The whole scheme relies on the states backing the plan, and already some states are saying they are very doubtful.” 

“Mr Taylor claims that it levels the playing field by cancelling subsidies for renewables.  But what about the massive subsidies fossil fuels receive, or the fact that most coal fired generators were built with public money?

“And who is paying for the gold plated wires that guarantee a healthy return for the privatised network owners? That’s not a level playing field.”

Mr Suttle said CE4G have partnered with an energy retailer that promises residents and businesses in Goulburn cheaper power than any other retailer in the market.

“Claims of cheaper power that might eventually trickle down in two years are future promises that may or may not happen,” said Mr Suttle.

“But people can sign up with our energy partner and save a lot more than the $100 dollars per year Mr Turnbull is promising, assuming his scheme ever gets off the ground,” said Mr Suttle.

“All they have to do is go to ce4g.org.au/signup to reduce their electricity bill right now. And when people sign up with us, some of the profits will stay here in Goulburn, not trickle off to some large energy conglomerate that is partly owned overseas.”