Victoria sets strict conditions for NEG support

The Victorian Government says it will only support the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) if specific conditions are met.

State energy ministers will gather at the COAG Energy Council meeting on Friday to discuss the fate of the NEG.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the conditions would ensure the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) – and the thousands of local jobs it supports – are protected.

“We won’t support any scheme that puts our renewable energy industry and Victorian jobs at risk,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“We can still get this right – but only if Malcolm Turnbull stares down the climate-crazies in his party and puts a workable scheme on the table that doesn’t hurt local jobs and households.”

For Victoria to sign up to the proposed NEG, the state government has 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.

Meanwhile, ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury has written to Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg negotiating a possible solution to the battle surrounding the emissions reduction target.

In the letter, Mr Rattenbury acknowledged the Federal Government can’t offer a target higher than 26 per cent.

“Recognising that you do not wish to increase this target, I would like to suggest another option for your consideration,” Mr Rattenbury wrote, according to The Guardian.

“My suggestion is that the target is reviewed no later than 2024, and that the final design of the NEG includes a mechanism to initiate a review immediately should electricity sector emissions reach a 24 per cent reduction on 2005 levels.

“I believe this is a position that can address concerns of some stakeholders and I am happy to discuss this with you further.”

Earlier this week, Mr Frydenberg said the emissions reduction target has already been flagged for a review in 2024, with no possibility of the target being negotiated down.

“We have committed to a review in 2024 of the targets. The states wanted a review and we are happy to provide it,” he told Fran Kelly on ABC Radio.

The Australian Energy Council has warned against the NEG being derailed by the separate debate on emissions reduction targets.

“We are now in very real danger of losing sight of what is at stake at Friday’s COAG Energy Council meeting,” Australian Energy Council chief executive Sarah McNamara said.

“The NEG has broad support as an effective mechanism to get Australia’s energy industry back on track.

“It will deliver confidence back to the sector, and end the uncertainty of the past decade.

“This policy vacuum has prevented us from getting on with the job of building the energy system we need in the 21st century.

“Nothing in the NEG mechanism prevents states and territories from pursuing their own renewable energy and emission reduction policies.”