As Hazelwood retires we need to Renew Australia

As Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power station begins to shut down, The Greens have outlined their plan for transforming the electricity sector with the establishment of a new independent public authority, Renew Australia, to short-circuit the current Federal/State stand off and lead the energy transition.

The Greens will give notice of a bill, the Renew Australia Bill 2017, in the Senate next week 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.

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 

Quotes attributable to Adam Bandt MP, Greens spokesperson on climate and energy:

“The national electricity system is broken and the Turnbull government is more interested in attacking the states than fixing it. We need a new public authority at arm’s length from government to lead the transition to a new energy system.”

“Privatisation has failed with pollution up, bills rising and big power companies gaming the system.”

“The market rules are stopping new renewables coming online, stifling innovation and making our energy system less stable and affordable.”

"Government shouldn't be scrambling around at the last minute debating whether to keep plants open. Let's learn from Hazelwood so that by the time the next power station closes, we've got secure jobs and industries for workers to move into and plenty of renewables and storage in the pipeline to take its place." 

 “Australia can be a renewable energy superpower if the government has the courage and vision to put in place a national plan.” 

“There is a danger that the government uses the Finkel review to justify its defence of the current system and the continued price gouging by fossil fuel generators, privatised energy retailers and grid operators.”

“We need a government plan in place before the next coal-fired power station closes so that communities have jobs to go to and there is enough new renewable energy to meet any shortfalls.”

Media contact: Gideon Reisner, 0429 109 054