One step closer to national energy policy

The proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is one step closer to fruition with ministers agreeing to continue work on the policy at today’s COAG Council meeting in Sydney.

Federal, state and territory energy ministers agreed to release the exposure draft of the National Electricity Law amendments that will implement the NEG, following a COAG Energy Council teleconference on 14 August and the passage of federal legislation through the Coalition Party Room.

“In the words of Energy Security Board Chair, Dr Kerry Schott, today’s agreement is a ‘great step forward’,” Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said.

“The Guarantee is designed by the experts, backed by industry, business and consumer groups and supported by independent modelling which shows the average household will be $550 a year better off under the NEG and existing policies underway.

“The NEG is in the national interest because it will deliver the investment certainty the sector needs, while lowering power bills, enhancing Australia’s economic competitiveness and strengthening the reliability of our energy system.”

Queensland Acting Energy Minister Cameron Dick said he was pleased Mr Frydenberg accepted that Commonwealth legislation needed to go through the Federal Coalition party room first.

“The Coalition party room is the biggest risk to energy and price stability, and has been for 10 years, so we need that party room certainty,” Mr Dick said.

At the request of the South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, the COAG Energy Council acknowledged the concern that a reliability gap could emerge at any time across the 10-year forecast period.

According to the meeting communiqué, the Council asked ESB to consult on legislative options for addressing this issue.

“Ministers reiterated the importance of effectively integrating energy and climate policy with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments working together to deliver more affordable, reliable and cleaner power,” the communiqué said.

Australian Energy Council chief executive Sarah McNamara said it was encouraging the NEG remained under active consideration.

“We urge energy ministers to continue to support the NEG so that it can be put in place to manage Australia’s energy challenges as soon as possible,” she said.

“The final design of the NEG addresses the ongoing need to provide a framework for investment certainty to resolve the trilemma of prices, reliability and emissions.”

“The policy paralysis of the last decade needs to end.

“A national, bipartisan agreement on the guarantee is essential to overcoming our current energy crisis. Political debates about Australia’s emissions reduction targets must not derail the implementation of the NEG framework.”

In addition to the NEG, the COAG Energy Council meeting also advanced important issues around transmission and the integrated system plan, energy infrastructure cybersecurity, new hydrogen opportunities and the implementation of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) landmark report into retail electricity pricing.

“Today’s meeting was an important step forward in advancing the Turnbull Government’s plan for a more affordable and reliable energy system,” Mr Frydenberg said.