Senate Select Committee calls for energy grid overhaul, signals Labor shift on coal

Senate Select Committee calls for energy grid overhaul, signals Labor shift on coal

Australia's electricity infrastructure needs to be dramatically modernised, a Senate Select Committee has recommended.

The introduction of five-minute settlement periods, a market based carbon trading scheme and the extension of the Renewable Energy Target would help to give investors in energy storage certainty and encourage the battery boom that is already taking place across the country, the Chair's report has said.

"We are on the cusp of an energy revolution and it's time our national grid got ready for it," the Chair of the Committee, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"Key steps need to be taken now, such as reducing the settlement periods for energy providers from 30 minutes to five, if we're going to step confidently into the renewable energy future.

"Australia can be a global leader in renewable energy technologies, but we'll only have the affordable and reliable supply that we need if we get the regulations right.

"My home state of South Australia knows all too well that this national grid, and the archaic rules that run it, simply aren't up to the job.

"The current rule-makers, the AEMC, are caught in the past and are resistant to any change that challenges the once-dominant fossil fuel companies. They need to get out of the way and this report has forged the path required for that to happen."

The Greens energy spokesperson, Adam Bandt MP said that Labor was shifting on coal and that the overwhelming evidence to the inquiry demonstrates that the current rules and regulators are holding back investment in a more modern, resilient and decentralised grid.

"I am pleased that some in Labor now agree with the Greens that no public money should go to building new coal-fired power stations, as the Turnbull government was urging in the middle of Cyclone Debbie.

"It is also welcome to see Labor Senators joining the Greens in calling for a national framework to retire coal-fired power stations.

"We need to know if a few Labor Senators are just flying a kite or if the party’s policy is shifting, given that just last month Labor refused to support a Senate committee’s calls for a national plan for retirement of coal-fired power stations.

"Bill Shorten now needs to back up his Senators by ruling out public subsidies for new coal-fired power and ruling in a national plan to retire coal-fired power stations.

"We're reading reports today that two-thirds of the Reef has been affected by coral bleaching, yet Labor is powering ahead with the Adani coal mine. Bill Shorten needs to show he's genuine on coal by withdrawing Labor's backing for the Adani mine.

"A consensus is emerging amongst fossil fuel generators, renewables, Greens, business and maybe Labor now too - everyone except the Coalition, really - that we need an orderly transition plan to avoid the chaos of power stations closing with only a few months’ notice.

"A clear plan to retire coal from the system means new renewables will start getting built and communities can be supported through the transition.

“Wholesale reform is needed but there are some simple things that could be done now to bring new hardware and software into the grid by the end of the year.
"The Turnbull government still lacks a coherent energy policy and a feasibility study for more pumped hydro is no substitute for a real national plan of reform.

“It is very disappointing that Labor refused to back reforms like the 5 minute settlement rule."

Media Contact

Adam Bandt: Gideon Reisner 0429 109 054
Sarah Hanson-Young: Noah Schultz-Byard 0427 064 760

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