COAG energy ministers in December 2015.

The federal and state governments have committed $18 million to progress the National Energy Productivity Plan, following last week’s COAG Energy Council meeting.

The NEPP aims to improve energy productivity by 40 per cent by 2030, with the $18 million delivered to a range of programs to help meet this target.

Most notably is $400,000 for the long-awaited foray into the multi-residential space for NABERS, which will rate the energy performance of apartment buildings nationwide on a six-star scale (more on this to come).

Another $1.3 million is earmarked for the buildings sector, including unstated amounts going towards funding towards implementation of updated commercial building standards for the 2019 National Construction Code, and funding to develop the case for raising standards for new residential buildings.

Other commitments include:

  • $2 million for Energy Consumers Australia to lead research to make energy choices easier for consumers, including through labelling, apps and services for the vulnerable
  • $3.2 million for the new prioritisation strategy for accelerating appliance energy efficiency standards
  • $2.3 million for work on the Gas Supply Strategy
  • $6 million to develop an Energy Use Data Model to support better forecasting and policy

Welcome news but much more needed

The news was welcomed by the Energy Efficiency Council, though it warned much more than the “modest” $18 million would be needed to keep energy affordable for households and businesses.

“The Energy Efficiency Council welcomes Australian and state governments’ support for improving standards for buildings and appliances,” EEC chief executive Luke Menzel said. “Appliance standards already save the average household over $300 a year on their energy bills.

“However, far more action will be required to fix our broken energy markets and keep energy affordable for homes and businesses. Without ambitious action we will fail to meet the Australian Government’s target to improve energy productivity (a measure of energy efficiency) by 40 per cent by 2030, and that will mean higher energy bills for Australians.”

A COAG statement said the NEPP would play a key role in meeting Australia’s emissions reduction target.

“Strong progress has already been made to implement measures in the NEPP, including expansion of the Commercial Building Disclosure scheme, bringing forward new appliance standards and work on new vehicle emission measures,” it stated.

“To ensure continued momentum the Council has now allocated substantive funding to progress key measures, particularly to improve buildings standards and compliance, accelerate buildings rating tools and work to make it easier for consumers to choose new energy services such as flexible tariffs.”