Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Government urged to link energy-saving program to carbon tax

Thursday 14/4/2011 Page: 2

A COALITION of clean energy groups and big companies will today urge the government to establish an extensive energy saving program alongside a carbon tax to help households lower their power bills. The group, which includes energy giant AGL Energy and the Clean Energy Council, says Labor should accept the findings of a government advisory group that last year recommended a scheme be set up requiring electricity retailers to ensure their industry and household customers used less energy.

The scheme could save households between $50 and $243 a year on their power bills and would complement a carbon tax, the business coalition says. Medium businesses could save between $10,608 and $23,712 a year. The government has yet to respond to the report from the Prime Minister's advisory group on energy efficiency, despite having received it more than six months ago. A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said there had been extensive consultation on the report and the government's response was being considered.

The task group's report also recommends setting a target to cut energy intensity the amount of energy used per dollar of gross domestic product by 30% over the next decade, requiring an average cut in power use of 16% for every Australian. A spokeswoman for AGL Energy said the company "has long been an advocate of the establishment of a national energy efficiency scheme which amalgamates the various state based schemes currently in operation". "We support the government in implementing this, as a complementary policy to a carbon price, as soon as possible".

Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said: "A national energy efficiency scheme needs to be complementary to the implementation of a carbon price it's the most effective way to help households and businesses save money on their power bills". "As Minister Combet said in his address to the National Press Club yesterday, any additional savings that households can make from energy efficiency will be extra money in the bank after compensation is allocated". The energy efficiency push comes as a group of 21 big companies, including AGL Energy, BP, IKEA GE, Linfox and Arup came out in support of a carbon price yesterday, following a week of complaints from the mining and manufacturing sectors about Labor's carbon tax plans.

A joint statement by the companies said that: "as the costs of action are outweighed by the costs of delay, the carbon price should be implemented as soon as possible. "A price should be accompanied by appropriate transitional assistance for households and trade exposed industry, as well as complementary measures that reduce emissions at least economic cost".