Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Infigen takes on Origin over wind power, consumer costs

21 Mar 2013

The renewables industry has responded angrily to Grant King's renewed attempts to dilute the renewable energy target, accusing the CEO of Origin Energy of distorting the facts, and taking actions in his own self interest that could result in higher bills for consumers. Miles George, the CEO of Infigen Energy, the largest owner of wind farms in the country and an emerging developer of solar power, said King-who has waged a campaign against the RET for the last few years-had gone "over the top" in a speech to CEDA earlier this week and made statements that were "just not true".

George's comments were made before the government on Thursday announced it would endorse the recommendation of the Climate Change Authority to retain the fixed 41,000 GW target for the RET. But given the uncertainty over the upcoming election and the position of the Coalition, and the possibility that another review could be held in 2014, the same arguments are likely to be rolled out in coming months. George's intervention highlights to what extent the renewables industry has been frustrated by the actions of the incumbent industry, but also points to a warning of the rapid changes that are being ignored by utilities-possibly at their peril.

George told an energy conference in Sydney on Wednesday that Origin Energy had invested billions in the gas export industry, and was seeking to protect that investment. "The fact is that the expected huge rise in domestic gas prices to export parity pricing over the next few years will make domestic gas fired power generation prohibitively expensive, and for that reason alone uncompetitive", George said. "Independent studies conducted by the Climate Change Authority, among others, have found that increased levels of renewable energy will in fact displace coal fired generation, after gas exporters (including Origin Energy) price themselves out of the domestic electricity generation market".

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