Energy giants urge ministers to push National Energy Guarantee through to next stage and worry about the details later

The big power retailers, industry, and the renewable energy lobby are urging state energy ministers to give the green light to the Energy Security Board to push on with the National Energy Guarantee in their Friday 20 April meeting.

Labor State Governments still have reservations about the NEG, especially seeing as some details about crucial parts of its workings in a draft document that was sent out to energy ministers last week.

The ACT is the most vociferous in its opposition since South Australia’s Weatherill led government was voted out of office in a March poll.

It is thought that the increasing pressure being brought to bear by such a broad cross-section of players increases the chances of the National Energy Guarantee moving into the full policy design stage.

Energy giant tells ministers not to get bogged down in details

EnergyAustralia head of energy Mark Collette urged ministers not to get bogged down in the details of the NEG and use Friday’s COAG session to end the decade-long impasse in climate and energy policy.

“While the detail to the NEG is critical, it’s the overall package that’s important. We can live with many things if that package provides certainty and policy stability – together, those things can unlock major investments in a new, modern energy system,” Mr Collette told the Australian Financial Review.

“It would be desperately disappointing for the NEG to stall on any one point of detail in the broader package, no matter how important that detail is. On Friday we hope the COAG Energy Council takes the next step in the NEG’s development.”

Clean Energy Council urges states to support NEG

The chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, which represents wind and solar energy companies, said the concessions on the NEG’s contracting obligations were “sensible refinements”.

Kane Thornton said: “We are encouraged by the progress and can certainly see that it addresses some of our concerns. We hope that states and territories will essentially support the Energy Security Board going to a full policy design.”

He expressed concern about the lack of ambition in the target for carbon emissions cuts, which the Turnbull government confirmed at 26 percent below 2005 levels in its own NEG update, and the door being left open to the use of carbon offsets to meet NEG obligations.

But Mr Thornton was untroubled by the Turnbull government’s plan for overachiever states’ results to be absorbed in the national emissions target rather than adding to it.

Industry groups are positive but warn that much is left to do

Tennant Reed, principal national public policy adviser at the Australian Industry Group, said: “What we have heard unofficially and in the media is very positive: the mechanism design directions would work well and allay prior concerns about potential risks to competition.”

He said there was “much more work left to do, and a big political chasm to bridge over-ambition, but the progress overall is good”.

Victoria wants lower emissions

Victorian energy and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said her state wanted a genuine commitment from the Turnbull government for bipartisanship in lowering emissions, growing renewables and market reform.

Queensland will not back down from 50 percent renewables target

The Queensland Labor government has yet to declare its position on the NEG, but Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the government would not back down from its ambitious renewable energy target of 50 percent by 2030.

Although Queensland has an uphill battle to overhaul its electricity mix from just 7 percent renewables to 50 percent in the next 12 years, Dr Lynham has said he believed the state’s dominant coal industry could coexist with solar and battery storage.

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