Peter Verwer

By Tina Perinotto

29 October 2010 – White certificates, or energy savings obligations for energy suppliers, proposed by the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency will be a big winner for the property industry, according to the Property Council of Australia.

The Property Council chief executive officer Peter Verwer said that the requirements will trigger energy suppliers to offer a range of incentives to their customers and the best way to do that will be through building owners – both commercial and residential.

This will add to the strong focus the Task Group placed on the built environment as a way to make huge energy cuts.

Mr Verwer said the white certificates would be a powerful mechanism to change the profile of energy use in the property sector.

“Everyone said white certificates would never get up.  But it was the number one recommendation of the PM’s Task Group because it’s a no brainer.

“The certificates will force energy suppliers to reward their customers for being energy efficient.

“It turns the business model on its head. In the past energy companies made money by selling more and more. Now it forces the to provide incentives to save energy.”

Mr Verwer said the existence of white certificates in NSW, Victoria and South Australia had made him confident there would be a national scheme.

Now it was time to design the mechanism to deliver the objectives.

A possible scenario was for energy providers to enter into partnership arrangements with property owners either at the individual building level or even for master planned communities in the case of residential property.

It will be property owners who will be “best to help reach the customer,” Mr Verwer said.

“There is plenty of room for creativity and innovation, which is what these market mechanism are meat to achieve.”

In Italy the existing system has worked so well that the base line targets have been raised, Mr Verwer said.

Ideally credits could be traded. They were traded in Italy and France but not in the UK, he said.

Mr Verwer also said that the $1 billion investment or green allowance to take a building of less than two stars NABERS Energy to more than four star,  announced before the election was better than the accelerated depreciation that the Task Group recommended against because depreciation allowances quickly ran out.

  • See the ALP announcement on the investment allowance
  • And our Spinifex contribution from TFE tax analyst Nicola Woodward

Mr Verwer said the Carbon Trust, chaired by Senator Robert Hill, was also a strong positive for the industry with its $80 million to develop and kick start innovative financial mechanisms to unlock the value of energy efficiency.

The problem with retrofitting existing buildings was that there was a “big time gap between when you invest in something and when it pays for itself .. it can be five or 10 or 15 years.” So owners needed some assistance to make the leap., Mr Verwer said.

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