Most Victorians would agree that we need to do our part to reduce carbon emissions. The transition to renewable energy will play a significant role in achieving these reductions; however the best way to transition is open for debate.
A transition to renewable energy will have wide-reaching impact on jobs, electricity prices and electricity supply reliability – all of which deserve consideration.
Unfortunately the Andrews Labor Government is driven largely by ideology on this issue and offered very little detail as to how a Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) will reduce emissions without substantially affecting Victorian consumers and jobs.
The Liberal Nationals’ consideration of Labor’s renewable energy targets depends on Labor producing detailed modelling and research supporting its claims over power prices, supply reliability and jobs. Unfortunately, none of this has been forthcoming.
If a legislated renewable energy target was truly in the best interest for Victorians, it stands to reason that the Andrews Labor Government would be falling over itself to put the facts on the table to support its claims.
Without these facts, Victorians can only reach the conclusion that the claimed “benefits” have little, if any, credibility. Labor has simply refused to demonstrate how a VRET will actually reduce emissions while at the same time saving us money and creating jobs.
Under Daniel Andrews, Victorians are paying some of the highest power prices in Australia. We’ve suffered through blackouts and seen hundreds of power jobs lost in the Latrobe Valley. Given this, Victorians could be forgiven for not taking Daniel Andrews at his word.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently reported that all states, with the exception of Victoria, are expected to meet the current reliability standard this coming summer. Victoria was singled out in the report, with a chapter devoted to highlighting the very real likelihood that up to 1.3 million Victorian households could be without power this summer.
If the potential calamity of having up to 1.3 million households experiencing blackouts is not something that makes Daniel Andrews sit up and take notice, then what is it going to take?
The AEMO report highlights that the introduction of renewables is not having the positive impact that the government is claiming.
In fact, the hasty and unplanned introduction of renewables is having a negative impact on the reliability of our coal fired generation fleet. Whilst gas or hydro generators can be brought online
quickly to cover peak demand when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, coal fired plants are simply not designed to do this. Meddling with coal supply operation causes more breakdowns and maintenance issues, increasing costs in the long run.
In addition, Labor has refused to rule out the premature closure of the Yallourn or Loy Yang B power stations in order to meet its renewable energy targets. We’re all still living with the hangover of the early closure of Hazelwood, which Daniel Andrews claimed would only result in a small 4 per cent increase in our electricity bills.
History has shown Labor’s claim to be entirely untrue, with household bills going up by over 20 per cent and businesses reporting significant rises. We can only guess what the impact on household bills will be if we lose another generator prematurely.
It’s no wonder that Daniel Andrews doesn’t want to release his modelling on the VRET.
A transition to renewable energy does not have to be an unplanned, headlong rush.
To avoid unreliability of supply and continued price rises, Labor needs to commit to greater investment in large scale storage capacity so that energy produced by wind and solar can actually be used in peak periods. Labor also needs to acknowledge that there is simply not enough capacity in our transmission network to handle the new renewable energy generation, and address the woefully inadequate investment that has been lacking in this vital infrastructure.
State governments have long been responsible for the supply of energy. With energy bills through the roof and widespread blackouts predicted, it is clear that Labor’s energy policies have been an abject failure.
Daniel Andrews is telling Victorians that a renewable energy target is good for prices, will guarantee supply and create jobs.
But if, as is predicted, 1.3 million households swelter in the darkness over these coming summer months, we will be rightly asking – how can we trust him?
Ryan Smith is the Shadow Minister for Energy and Renewables & Shadow Minister for Resources