Christine Milne:big polluters will get cheaper energy prices and not have to pay for any of the costs of cleaner energy

– 20 August 2009 – Green groups have applauded the passage of the renewable energy target legislation in Parliament today, but say compensation to big polluters means consumers will be the brunt of the costs and the polluters will get windfall gains.

Greens senator Christine Milne said the Government and Opposition voted against an Australian Greens amendment that “would have prevented polluters from making windfall profits thanks to their exemption from the renewable energy target.

“Economic models predict that wholesale electricity prices will fall thanks to the renewable energy target because renewable energy technologies shave off some of the massive price spikes that occur at times of peak demand,” Ms Milne said.

“The exemptions in the bill mean that polluters will benefit from the predicted lower wholesale electricity price without having to pay for the installation of the renewable energy that reduced the price.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed “the first major piece of climate legislation to pass Australia’s Federal Parliament.”

ACF executive director Don Henry said a report by energy consultants McLennan Magasanik Associates estimated up to $31 billion would be invested in renewable energy, creating around 26,000 new jobs.

However, he added: “ACF is disappointed more compensation has been granted to big polluters, the costs of which will be unfairly borne by households and small business.

Chief executive officer of the Total Environment Centre, Jeff Angel, said the passage of the legislation was a major advance.

“It will mean that we can start mainstreaming renewables – bringing them in from the margins of the economy,” Mr Angel said.

“The ultimate aim, of course, is that they should replace existing and new investment in fossil fuel power but two other measures need to happen.
“First the new green power does not just feed growing demand because we are becoming much more energy efficient.

“Second the National Electricity Market does not get in the way by continuing to encourage coal power and energy inefficiency – it’s a big player that needs drastic reform.”