CEC Media Release: Changing Renewable Energy Target would damage investment and throw away jobs

Reducing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) as a result of the current review would increase power bills and lead to thousands of lost jobs, the Clean Energy Council argued in its submission this week to the panel reviewing the policy.

Clean Energy Council Deputy Chief Executive Kane Thornton said that if Australia really was open for business as stated by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the policy should be left alone. Over $10 billion of investment had been made in large-scale renewable energy under the scheme since it was established in 2001, and this investment would be damaged if the scheme was to be changed, he said.

“The prospect of continually moving policy goalposts simply deters serious investment in an industry that is already adding major benefits to the Australian economy,” Mr Thornton said.

“A study completed for the Clean Energy Council found that removing the RET would lead to both the loss of thousands of existing jobs, as well as a reduction in the bulk of future jobs that are projected to be created by renewable energy projects.  

“Leaving the policy alone would create approximately 18,400 jobs by the end of the decade, additional investment of $15 billion in large-scale renewable energy and lower power bills over the medium term.

“Household power prices will actually be lower by the end of the decade with the Renewable Energy Target in place, as it will offset the rising cost of using gas to produce electricity. The research by ROAM Consulting found that household energy prices would be $50 per year lower by 2020 with the RET in place – a combined saving of approximately $500 million,” he said.

The Clean Energy Council submission called for the removal of the legislated reviews of the policy every two years, which ‘presented the single biggest challenge to the industry’, creating uncertainty, stalling investment and, ultimately, driving up costs.

“The RET has been repeatedly reviewed and refined and operates as a highly efficient policy mechanism. It is a highly effective scheme delivering renewable energy at the lowest cost to energy consumers,” the submission said.

“It has resulted in increasing scale and efficiency, in turn driving down the cost of deploying renewable energy. It has also developed Australian capability in the skills and supply chain that drive innovation, as well as local jobs and flow-on economic benefits.”

The Clean Energy Council’s submission said that, since 2001, the Renewable Energy Target had:

  • generated more than $20 billion of investment in renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, bioenergy and hydro
  • contributed to employment in the renewable energy industry of approximately 24,000 at the end of 2012, much of which is in rural or regional Australia
  • supported over two million Australian households which have installed a household clean energy system such as solar power, solar hot water systems or heat pumps
  • helped the renewable energy sector to generate 13 per cent of the country’s electricity in 2012
  • led to an increasingly diverse and competitive electricity market for the benefit of all consumers
  • substantially reduced wholesale power prices, mostly balancing out the modest cost of the policy on other parts of retail power bills
  • helped Australia meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by reducing emissions by 22.5 megatonnes.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.