Australian Greens dissenting report
As the author of the Renewable Energy (Electricity)
Amendment (Feed-in-Tariff) Bill 2008, the Greens are pleased that the committee
report is reasonably accurate in its summation of the evidence presented in
submissions and hearings during the inquiry and that both the Government and
the Opposition members are persuaded that a nationally coordinated approach to
the introduction of a ‘gross’ renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme is needed
However, the report recommendations do not reflect the
overwhelming body of evidence and the discussion in the body of the report. In
particular, the Greens disagree with the primary recommendation that that the
introduction of feed-in laws should be delegated to COAG. If Australia is to
have an effective, coordinated and nationally consistent FiT scheme within a
reasonable timeframe then it should be managed by the federal government, as
are similar policies such as the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target and the
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
There is overwhelming public and industry support for this
legislation. No one believes that the COAG process will deliver a gross feed in
tariff in the foreseeable future. Since several States have recently
introduced and are now defending poorly designed FiT schemes, it is unrealistic
to expect the States to now amend and coordinate these laws. A new national FiT
scheme managed by the Commonwealth Government can easily accommodate and
eventually replace these existing State schemes.
The decision to leave it to
COAG is a decision to delay indefinitely a mechanism that is the proven driver
of the deployment of renewable energy. This was acknowledged most recently in
Kingdom where FiT legislation was foreshadowed, heralding a
significant shift away from their existing renewable energy target approach.
With the shift towards FiTs the United Kingdom will
be adopting a policy that is proving remarkably successful throughout most of Europe.
Rejection or delay of this legislation is a blow to the development of the
green technologies at the forefront of the Green energy revolution that is
imminent globally, and will leave Australia behind
both in green collar jobs and industry innovation. Leaving the deployment of
renewable energy to rebates and low interest loans is a recipe for piecemeal
and minimal deployment.
Areas of disagreement are detailed below.
2.39 states that "Given the complexities involved, the committee believes
that the current process of negotiation through COAG to achieve a nationally
consistent FIT framework is the appropriate one." The
Greens would change recommendation 1 to:
Noting strong industry,
consumer and government support for FIT schemes, the committee recommends that the
Commonwealth government introduce a gross national FIT scheme as quickly as
3.70 to 3.77 discuss degression of FiT payments (that is, a predetermined
annual reduction in FiT rates for new projects). While the Greens agree that a
predictable degression of FiT rates usefully provides an incentive for early
investment and encourages ongoing innovation to reduce costs, it is also
important is that the Minister has the option to increase FiT rates if it is
determined that a technology uptake rate is too low. This approach also has the
advantage of allowing the Government to take a ‘learning by doing’ approach
since during the early years of the scheme in particular there will need to be
a period of ‘price discovery’. The Greens therefore disagree with
Recommendation 5 which says that pre-determined tariff degression rates should
form part of a national FiT scheme.
3. In its
conclusion the committee report lists a number of matters requiring more
detailed consideration. These include:
action in light of pre-existing state and territory schemes;
The Greens view is that federal
government should take charge of renewable energy development policy, just as
it is doing with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which allows the NSW
Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme to become redundant. This Bill
provides the flexibility for the Minister to make allowances for existing State
eligibility of different renewable energy sources;
The Greens believe that all
renewable energy sources should be eligible but that the Minister should
determine the FiT rate. By this mechanism the pricing will determine the
attractiveness of the scheme for each technology type. It may be, for example,
that wind energy receives a FIT of zero if it is judged to be
adequately supported by the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. The Greens also
acknowledge the number of submissions rejecting wood waste as renewable given
the controversy surrounding its sustainability in some circumstances. We agree
that these concerns are valid and must be taken into account.
values available for different sizes of generator;
clearly delegates this decision to the responsible Minister.
parameters within which FIT payments will decrease
over time (degression);
The Greens view, as discussed
above, is that pre-set degression rates are not the best approach and that in
this regard to Bill should proceed as drafted.
and how FIT payments will be
The Greens view is that indexation
is not essential, however if other parties felt it was we are willing to
consider amendments to the Bill.
clearly set out the information management requirements of the responsible
Minister and the regulator.
management for the administration of the scheme.
In summary the Greens believe that the Bill should
proceed, albeit with a range of sensible amendments based on information
gratefully received in submissions and hearings. Finalisation of the
underpinning regulations is a complex policy area which would obviously require
the analytical resources of Departments including Treasury, Climate Change and
the Environment, and so the Greens would welcome the earliest possible
engagement of the Government on this critical and urgent policy issue.
Senator Christine Milne
Australian Greens, Tasmania
Senator Scott Ludlam
Australian Greens, Western Australia
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