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Renewable energy target: Coalition and Labor no closer to compromise

By September 18, 2014In the News



The renewable energy scheme has helped encourage more than one million Australian households to install solar panels on their roofs. Photograph: Alice Solar City/AAP Image

by Oliver Millman

The two major parties appear no closer to a compromise on the future of the renewable energy target, amid a push by Coalition backbenchers to strip away the mechanism for large-scale wind and solar projects.

The government has repeatedly called on Labor to compromise over the RET, which requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.

The scheme is made up of the large-scale RET, aimed at wind and solar farms, and the small-scale renewable energy scheme, which has helped encourage more than one million Australian households to install solar panels on their roofs.

A review of the RET, led by businessman Dick Warburton, found that the system had helped lower carbon emissions, drive investment and create jobs. But it recommended the scheme be either closed or suspended until energy demand increases.

On Wednesday, Tony Abbott said the review was a “good document”, but would not set out the government’s official position. Both the Coalition and Labor pledged at the election to keep the RET as it is.

“We are weighing the public response to that document and we will be having more to say about the renewable energy target in a few weeks’ time,” Abbott said.

According to the Australian, a “compromise” position of pushing back the deadline for the large-scale RET to 2022 or 2023 has been put forward by the Australian Workers Union. The AWU also wants the aluminium industry exempt from the RET.

While this proposal might gain support within Labor, Coalition backbenchers are looking to go further.

Coalition senator and deputy whip Chris Back said he understood the complaints of the aluminium industry but that everyone should be exempt.

“I don’t think we should have the large RET in place at all, we should give everyone the same relief that aluminium is seeking,” he told Guardian Australia.

“The cost of household systems is coming down, which is good, especially as power costs go up. I think there’s a case to support that for now, until there’s cost parity.


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