Frydenberg confident NEG will be signed off today

As Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia throw support behind the Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) ahead of today’s COAG Energy Council meeting, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said he is confident the policy will pass.

Despite the ACT and Victoria objecting to the low emissions reduction target, Mr Frydenberg said a dinner last night with state energy ministers was constructive.

“While some of the states maintain some of their concerns with the design, there is broad understanding of the importance of the guarantee,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News this morning.

“I’m confident at today’s meeting we will move forward in progressing the NEG, bearing in mind it is in the national interest and bearing in mind it is the only game in town.

“There is no plan B.”

Earlier this week, the Victorian Government set four conditions that will need to be met.

Emissions reduction targets can only be allowed to increase over time and “never go backwards”; future targets will need to be set by regulation; the targets will need to be set every three years, three years in advance; and a transparent registry needs to be established.

The ACT Government said it would use today’s meeting to seek significant improvements to the NEG to attempt to make it into a workable energy policy.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT has been a leader in Australian climate policy for more than a decade.

“We will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity in 2020, and have driven the establishment of new major wind and solar facilities in the Canberra region and beyond, creating thousands of new jobs in the process,” he said.

“We can only support a national energy policy that genuinely advances renewable energy, and energy affordability.

“The Commonwealth’s proposed NEG contains serious problems that need to be addressed or consumers and the climate will both lose out.”

Tasmania Minister for Energy Guy Barnett said now is “not the time to play politics with an issue Australians want resolved”.”

“The NEG delivers lower power bills, reliability of supply while working towards a clean energy future,” Mr Barnett said.

“Labor states will play politics with this historic resolution at their peril.

“Tasmania is extremely well placed to maximise benefits under the NEG as the nation’s renewable energy powerhouse, by providing low cost, clean and reliable energy in abundance.”

The NSW Cabinet has also endorsed the implementation of the NEG “without delay” and has urged other states to put the public interest first and sign up to the agreement.

NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said the state had always argued for reliability and affordability to be front and centre of any national energy reforms.

“That is why we support the NEG. A national approach to the energy market would increase certainty for investors and lower prices for customers.”

If the policy is agreed upon TODAY, draft legislation will be released for comment for a period of four weeks before being given a final tick-off from the states.