Despite countless bodies, committees, reviews and an army of bureaucrats, we are still no closer to an energy policy and prices keep rising.
In 2005, COAG set up the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) as rule maker and as a provider of advice to Ministers on how best to develop energy markets over time.
That same year, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) was formed as part of the ACCC to act as the regulator of the wholesale electricity and gas markets in Australia to enforce the rules established by the AEMC.
In 2009, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) commenced operations to manage the National Electricity Market (NEM) and the Victorian gas transmission network.
“AEMO also facilitates electricity and gas full retail contestability, overseeing these retail markets in eastern and southern Australia. It is additionally responsible for national transmission planning for electricity and the establishment of a Short Term Trading Market (STTM) for gas.”
In 2011, we had the Garnaut Climate Change Review which included recommendations for developments in the electricity sector.
In 2012, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) was established to manage the government’s renewable energy programs, with the objective of increasing supply and competitiveness of Australian renewable energy sources.
That same year, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) was established to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.
In 2014 we had the Warburton Review into the Renewable Energy Target. Modelers ACIL Allen were paid $287,468 to assess the effect of the RET on energy prices but, under instructions from the government, were also told to assess the cost of coal-fired generation while ignoring climate, carbon, financing risk, as well as community opposition. In other words, to ignore commercial reality.
In March this year, Scott Morrison directed the ACCC to hold an inquiry into the supply of retail electricity and the competitiveness of retail electricity prices.
In June, the Finkel Review on how to maintain security and reliability in the National Electricity Market was released.
Then in August, COAG established a new Energy Security Board (ESB) to coordinate the implementation of the reform blueprint produced by Australia’s Chief Scientist.
Yesterday, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced the formation of an Expert Advisory Panel “to gain important perspectives from senior energy leaders during a period in which the energy sector is undergoing unprecedented and rapid change.”
And we are paying $29 million for a feasibility study into Snowy-Hydro 2.0 whilst they refuse to release previous feasibility studies into the project.
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia. Instead of forming more committees and commissioning more studies and reviews, perhaps we should just listen to them.
“Unfortunately the entire energy sector and the business community are relying on our politicians to work together towards national long-term energy and climate policy. Without these foundations, it’s increasingly difficult for businesses to invest with certainty in projects that typically have investment horizons which are measured in decades rather than election cycles. The lack of long-term policy is making it very difficult to anticipate where the energy market goes from here, what happens to wholesale energy prices, how much old generation will retire – and when – and where the price signal comes from for new investment.
So in the absence of long-term policy and strategy you get announcements like Snowy 2.0 and the South Australian Government building their own gas generator. These are essentially direct government intervention in a market that is increasingly unfit for purpose. Until state and federal politicians are prepared to cooperate however, what has been a lost decade in energy investment could potentially stretch on for much longer.
The bit of good news in all this is the Renewable Energy Target, has begun to work in earnest thanks to the complementary support from a number of state and territory government schemes, along with ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Rooftop and commercial-scale solar continues to be installed, and the business case improves every year. And every month more projects reach financial close and prepare to start work.
The unprecedented program of works which will be under construction in 2017 now adds up to more than $5.5 billion in new investment and over 3000 jobs. That’s more than any other year, including the Snowy Hydro Schemes of the past and future.”
It should be remembered that, under the Gillard government, the country did briefly have a clear direction which has since been replaced by the chaos we see now resulting in years more delay.
The government has adopted the catch phrase that they are “agnostic” when it comes to energy generation.
Considering the government’s deliberate avoidance of the implications of climate change, their refusal to accept the findings of reviews that show renewable energy will make energy cheaper in the medium term (if not already), their devotion to coal when private industry have no desire to invest, and the uncertainty created by changing policy and lack of firm direction, I don’t think agnostic is an appropriate description.
Rather than “We cannot know everything”, they are more like Sergeant Schultz.
“We know nothing!”