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ACT’s Corbell to rally states on renewable targets

By September 3, 2014CIH LTD News
Simon Corbell

ACT Energy Minister Simon Corbell intends to rally state governments to implement their own renewable energy policies should the Abbott government adopt the “dismal” recommendations of the Warburton review.

Corbell, speaking ahead of the opening of the 20MW Royalla solar farm, was highly critical of the Warburton report and the apparent ideological prejudice against renewables within the federal government and conservative circles.

If the federal government acts on the Warburton recommendations, he said, then the outlook for renewable energy in Australia will be “dismal”, notwithstanding the efforts of his own territory.

“I think that sub national levels of government are going to have to do the heavy lifting if we continue to see this policy paralysis and lack of bipartisanship, and the ignorance on the part of federal policy makers,” he told RenewEconomy in an interview.

“The states and territories are very well positioned to act. They can put in place their own renewable energy schemes, whether it’s mandated renewable energy targets, whether it is feed in tariff support arrangements.

“That combined with measures for mandated energy efficiency requirements that can help reduce demand, are a strong suite of tools that should be deployed carefully, and ingeniously by state and territory governments.”

“Once we see the result of the government response to the Warburton report, it would be my view to speak to my state counterparts to see if there was a will to develop some coordinated policies that could support renewable energy across the states and territories.”

Right now, the ACT is the brightest beacon for the renewable energy in Australia. On Wednesday it officially opened the 20MW Royalla solar farm – the largest in Australia and, extraordinarily, the first in the National Electricity Market.

The ACT has another 20MW of solar farms about to be built, is closing an auction for 200MW of wind energy capacity later today, and also plans an auction for 50MW of advanced solar projects, which essentially means projects that include storage.

That is all part of the 90 per cent renewable energy target the ACT has set itself for 2020. It is not likely that the ACT can be more ambitious than that, although Corbell has flagged the return of feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar to bridge the gap if the small-scale target is removed.

But Corbell is conscious that the country needs more projects to bring in competition, which will help lower costs and financing.

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