Julia Gillard looking at a recent Sydney property function

12 October 2011  – The Clean Energy package has sailed through the Lower House, Jillian Broadbent from the Reserve Bank has been appointed to head the new $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Tony Abbott may  not be able to repeal the carbon price as he claims. The consensus? An historic day.

Other appointments to the CEFC advisory panel (ahead of the formation of a board) include investment experts David Paradice and Ian Moore.

The prime minister Julia Gillard told Fairfax newspapers that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would not repeal the legislation if he was elected because “it would involve taking associated compensation from pensioners and families and ‘repudiating the views of every living Liberal leader’.” She also told a Green Capital forum earlier this year that a Coalition Government would be technically prevented from repealing the carbon legislation until 2015 at the earliest because it still needed a majority in the Senate, and by 2015. And by then,  such a repeal would seem very unwise.

In a plethora of statements politicians, green groups and green energy groups applauded the move to a cleaner lower emission Australia.

Following are some of the highlights.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation
Reserve Bank board member Jillian Broadbent will chair an expert review to advise on the design of the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation and will then head the board, which will be formed to manage it.

Ms Broadbent is also on the board of Woolworths and the ASX Ltd, has previously been a director of Woodside Petroleum, Coca-Cola Amatil and Qantas. She is also chancellor of Wollongong University and was made a companion of the Order of Australia in 2003 for service to economic and financial development in Australia.

David Paradice has two decades of experience in funds management, including $6.6 billion in assets under management and Ian Moore has two decades of banking, finance and actuarial experience, predominately at Bankers Trust, and is “an expert in risk and return profiles of debt and equity financing,” a government media statement said.

Jillian Broadbent

The expert review panel will consult with key stakeholders and report to the Government by mid March 2012 with recommendations on the:

  • implementation plan for the establishment of the CEFC
  • investment mandate and risk management approach of the CEFC
  • governance arrangements of the CEFC

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency
ARENA will be established on 1 July 2012 and will oversee around $3.2 billion in Australian Government funding for renewable energy such as solar (including large scale solar), biomass, biofuels, ocean and geothermal, if legislation introduced today in the Federal Parliament passes the Senate.

About $1.5 billion of the projected frunding from ARENA is committed to existing projects, and $1.7 billion is uncommitted.

A federal government media statement said ARENA would support renewable energy technology and help drive down costs.

ARENA will consolidate and build on work by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Australian Solar Institute and the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy.

A board will be appointed to manage the agency .

ARENA will:

  • provide financial assistance for the research, development, demonstration, deployment and commercialisation of renewable energy and related technologies
  • develop skills in the renewable energy industry
  • share of non-confidential knowledge and information from the projects it funds
  • promote collaboration on renewable energy technology innovation with state and territory governments and other institutions, including international governments and institutions

“ARENA centralises the funding of projects currently within the oversight of DRET, ACRE and the ASI. Staff from the ASI will transfer to DRET and provide support to ARENA,” the statement said. “It will be largely business as usual for the projects transferring to ARENA.”

The Australian Greens
Australian Greens Deputy Leader Senator Christine Milne said thatPutting a price on pollution will “send an important signal to energy investors, but it is these multi-billion dollar investment funds delivered by the Greens that will bring forward the shift to renewables.

“Between them, ARENA and the CEFC will help exciting renewable energy technologies like baseload solar power right the way through from innovation through commercialisation to full-scale deployment.

“Renewable energy programs in Australia have historically been a mess of badly-designed schemes run as photo opportunities rather than helping build the industry. ARENA and the CEFC will change all that.

“By bringing all these programs under expert authorities independent of the government, we can finally deliver the consistent, systemic support the industry needs in order to challenge entrenched coal.”

“ARENA will take the short-term politics out of renewable energy and deliver strong, consistent support to the industry so that it can be confident of a long-term, flourishing future.”

Clean Energy legislative package
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, said the package would allow Australia to seize the economic and job opportunities that will come as the world tackles climate change and shifts to a clean energy future.

“The 19 Bills, comprising the Clean Energy legislation and the Steel Transformation Plan Bill, represent one of the most important environmental and economic reforms in this nation’s history,” Mr Combet said.

The legislation would provide certainty to business and encourage further investment in clean energy and low emissions technologies, he said.

“The Bills implement the key elements of the Government’s Securing a Clean Energy Future plan announced on 10 July. The legislation was finalised following widespread consultation with stakeholders and the broader community.

“The legislation will now be introduced to the Senate and the Government will work to secure its passage through the upper house by the end of the year.”

The Energy Efficiency Council
Chief executive of the EEC Rob Murray-Leach said it was an historic day for Australia.

“The carbon price will unleash billions of dollars of investment to improve businesses’ efficiency,” he said.

In the past year his members had worked on finding energy efficiencies including cogeneration systems.”

Mr Murray-Leach said that global prices for coal, gas and oil were rising due to economic growth in Asia, which meant that companies needed to become more efficient to stay competitive.

“Australian businesses currently waste huge amounts of energy, and that puts our economy at risk. A carbon price has a relatively small impact on energy prices, and actually helps businesses by providing the certainty they need to invest in changes that are long overdue.

“Coal-fired generators currently waste over 70 per cent of the energy in the coal as heat in places like the Hunter Valley and Latrobe Valley. Another 10 per cent is lost travelling to our cities, and in an incandescent lightbulb a massive 95 per cent of the remaining energy is wasted.

“In total, less than 2 per cent of the energy in the coal is turned into a useful service – light.
“In contrast, cogeneration systems use over 70 per cent of the energy in a fuel by using waste heat to warm and cool buildings or processes. Combine this with technologies like LED lights, and you get five times as much value out of each unit of fuel. A mix of technologies like this across the economy will dramatically boost efficiency.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation
The Australian Conservation Foundation congratulated parliamentarians who voted for the Clean Energy bills in the House of Representatives today, saying a decade of people power had resulted in Australia being one step closer to having laws to cut pollution.

“Today’s vote is historic for the millions of Australians who, in the face of well-funded scare campaigns, have tirelessly urged successive Australian governments to take action on climate change,” said Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive officer Don Henry.

“A decade of people power means we are now just weeks away from having laws that will cut pollution and contribute to the global effort to tackle climate change.

“New Zealand has a price on pollution – and so do 30 other countries. Just as Australians don’t want to be beaten by New Zealand on the rugby field, so we shouldn’t let the Kiwis get too far in front of us in the battle to cut pollution.”

Mr Henry also commended the government for moving to establish in law the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“It’s vital that we really unleash the research, development and investment required to make the transition to a clean energy economy – the $3.2 billion ARENA will play a key role in funding that transition,” he said.

See this report by the ACF on the CEFC, Helping Australia Compete in the Renewable Energy Race [https://www.acfonline.org.au/uploads/res/CEFC.pdf]

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