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Green-powered economic recovery needs fair pay for renewable energy - 8 Greens MPs

Australia needs nationally consistent price guarantees for renewable energy (known as "feed-in tariffs"), as the most effective and efficient way to build a people-powered, zero emissions energy network and help drive a ‘green economic recovery', eight Greens MPs said today.

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne, who has a Private Member's Bill before the Senate to establish a national feed-in tariff, was joined in today's call by Greg Barber MLC (VIC), John Kaye MLC (NSW), Ronan Lee MP (QLD), Paul Llewellyn MLC (WA), Nick McKim MP (TAS), Mark Parnell MLC (SA) and Shane Rattenbury MLA (ACT), all of whom have worked for effective feed-in policies. The MPs are in Brisbane for the Greens National Conference.

Senator Milne said "Everywhere I go across Australia, people are asking me why governments are not helping them to be part of the solution to climate change.

"One of the best things governments can do is to guarantee a fair price for all renewable energy generated by anyone, giving householders, farmers and businesses the certainty they and their banks need to invest in solar panels, wind turbines or any other renewable energy technology."

Following Germany's lead, many countries and states around the world have introduced feed-in tariffs and seen their renewable energy supply boom, creating jobs and investment and reducing greenhouse emissions. Recent studies from the International Energy Agency and Ernst & Young have shown that feed-in tariffs are more effective and cheaper than quota systems such as Australia's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. The UK is already taking this recent advice.

Several Australian States and Territories have proposed or active feed-in tariffs, but all are different and most are deeply flawed. The biggest problems are in limiting payments to solar power, to small scale generation, and to ‘net' generation, instead of all power generated.

Senator Milne said, "The Greens are calling for uniform gross-metered feed-in tariffs, supplementing the MRET, to ensure that people get fair pay for all renewable energy generated from any source of any size."

Queensland Greens MP Ronan Lee has consistently placed the need for stronger support for renewable energy at the top of the Queensland Greens' list of priorities. "Queensland is often called the Sunshine State and we should also be world leaders in renewable energy.

"Queensland and Australia can lead the world with our support for renewable energy if we adopt a nationally consistent approach to renewable energy as is being proposed by Greens Senator Christine Milne" Mr Lee said.

Greg Barber, Greens Victorian MLC, said " The Victorian Labor government have come up with a terrible model. It's up to our Parliament's Upper house to fix it."

Tasmanian Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that Premier David Bartlett must commit Tasmania to supporting a national gross feed-in tariff at November's COAG meeting, and if the Federal government continues to stall he should be prepared to lead the way in Tasmania.

"Feed-in tariffs can play a crucial role in driving investment into renewable energy which is the way forward for Tasmania to reduce emissions and create green-collar jobs," Mr McKim said.

SA Greens MLC Mark Parnell said "SA might have been the first state to put in a feed-in scheme, but by no means did we get it right. I have just introduced a Bill into State Parliament to fix up mistakes in the SA laws. A consistent, national approach with greater incentives for renewable energy is clearly a better way to go."

Greens MLC for Western Australia's South West Region Paul Llewellyn said "the feed-in tariff scheme proposed by the Labor party during the recent State election, and now adopted by the new Liberal National government is limited to a short term program to support solar panels. In effect the entire program will amount to running a single turbine in the Albany Wind Farm for about four years.

"The new Liberal National government has the opportunity to do a lot better for the renewable energy industry" Mr Llewellyn said. "I have spoken with the new Energy Minister about feed in tariffs and encouraged him to support the Greens feed in tariff proposal, which will create large scale investment for all renewable energy technologies including solar, wind and bio energy while doing away with the complex and expensive system of rebates and grants that we currently have."

A Senate Inquiry report into Senator Milne's Bill will be tabled tomorrow, sparking the next phase in the national debate, leading towards November's COAG meeting.

Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

Notes

  • "Feed-in tariffs", also known as renewable energy price guarantees, were pioneered in Germany at the instigation of the German Greens. The world-leading success of Germany's renewable energy industry is clearly attributable to this policy.
  • "Feed-in tariffs" operate by guaranteeing a set fair price for any renewable energy sent into the grid for a set period of time.
    • The price is tailored to the developmental stage and needs of each technology and the requirements of the energy network.
    • The price is guaranteed for a set period for each installation when it goes online, but the price for new installations is adjusted regularly as circumstances change.
    • Costs for the payments are spread evenly across all energy users. 
  • Where up-front subsidies are inherently unstable and unpredictable, as the recent history of Australia's solar rebate shows, "feed-in tariffs" provide long-term investment certainty for anyone who wishes to invest in renewable energy, be they a householder, a business owner or a large-scale investor.
  • Where the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target benefits only the cheapest possible renewable energy technologies, "feed-in tariffs" help bring online a broad array of different technologies, helping them become more mature and market-ready.
  • A recent study by global accounting firm, Ernst and Young, found that Germany's "feed-in tariff" delivers more renewable energy at a lower cost than the UK's Renewable Obligation and trading scheme.
  • A recent report by the International Energy Agency found that "feed-in tariffs" are more effective and cheaper than tradable quota systems such as Australia's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target:
  • The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has been considering how best to harmonise the various approaches being taken by State and Territory Governments to "feed-in tariffs". Discussion is expected at the upcoming November COAG meeting. Greens MPs in every Parliament (except the NT) have been working to improve proposed and existing legislation.
    • Harmonisation is a worthy goal, but it must be aimed at the best policy design which ensures fair payment for all renewable energy generated, not just ‘net' generation, from all renewable energy technologies, and from installations of any size. Most State schemes lack some or all of these key principles.
  • The Senate Inquiry into Christine Milne's Private Member's Bill for a "feed-in tariff", which received overwhelmingly positive submissions, is due to table its report tomorrow, Monday November 10.
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