As Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power station begins to shut down, We have outlined our plan for transforming the electricity sector with the establishment of a new independent public authority, Renew Australia, to short-circuit the current Federal/State standoff and lead the energy transition.
The Greens have given notice of a bill, the Renew Australia Bill, in the Senate and the House of Representatives to establish the authority.
Recent pressures in the National Electricity Market have highlighted the need for a coherent national plan led by a strong independent authority, acting in the public interest, to plan and lead the transition to a zero carbon economy. A number of submissions to the Finkel Review have also supported the need for a new national body to oversee electricity reform.
The ongoing retirement of coal-fired power stations mean the federal government’s failure to implement a national plan is the main barrier to investment in the new electricity generation we need.
The Greens have a strong record on reform in the electricity sector, proposing and establishing ARENA and the CEFC, and if established Renew Australia would be another key reform.
The Greens bill will be an opportunity for the Parliament to debate and vote on the national energy plan. If the government’s failure to act continues, Parliament must act instead.
Our plan to Renew Australia
The Greens plan will:
- Establish a new $500 million government authority – Renew Australia – tasked with planning and driving the transition to a new clean energy grid and to leverage $5 billion of construction in new energy generation over the next four years;
- Ensure that energy generation is at least 90% renewable by 2030 and our energy productivity is doubled;
- Change the National Electricity Objective and rules to make pollution reduction a goal of the electricity market and level the playing field for battery storage;
- Implement pollution intensity standards to enable the gradual, staged retirement of coal-fired power station and legislate a timetable for closure;
- Continue and expand the Renewable Energy Target and begin reverse auctions to drive investment in renewable energy and battery storage;
- Create a $250 million Clean Energy Transition Fund to assist coal workers and communities with the transition
Powering the new economy
Tackling global warming needs real leadership. In the face of the climate challenge, the rest of the world is moving rapidly to transform their economies and we cannot be left behind.
The Green’s plan for 90% renewable energy will meet Australia’s energy demand more cheaply. Electricity demand is predicted to increase, particularly as we electrify our transport system, while building new fossil fuel-based power stations is already more expensive than wind and will soon be more expensive than solar.
To secure all the benefits of lower prices, better technologies, more jobs, competitive advantages and significant export opportunities, building the clean economy needs to start right now.
Handing the power back to users.
Like the digital revolution that is transforming so many aspects of our lives, energy generation and its delivery is undergoing a transformation, through sophisticated technology that puts the power back in the hands of everyday Australians.
The Greens want to hand the power back to energy users. When all types of homes and businesses are able to generate and trade their own power, the democratisation of our energy system will be unstoppable, jobs will be created and energy bills will be slashed for households everywhere — from public housing tenants, to renters, to apartment-dwellers.
Transitioning away from coal
Many of the coal plants we rely on for our power are half a century old and well past their used by date. But under the current settings the oldest, dirtiest coal plants will be the last to close.
Under RenewAustralia, once a power station is above the set pollution target, the energy regulator will have the statutory power to order the generator to be decommissioned. A planned transition offers workers the security to plan their future rather than being thrown out by the company board when it has no choice but to close. This is crucial because the clean energy transformation must also be an equitable one.
Renew Australia will have access to a Clean Energy Transition Fund, to ensure no coal worker is left behind. Training and re-skilling programs, investment support for new businesses and enterprises, and funding to assist new industries to move to affected areas will be some of the options Renew Australia will be charged with implementing.