Tuesday 8 December 2009

Energy tariff a turn-off - Eco-power pay pittance blurs vision, says installer

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 3/12/2009 Page: 24

PREMIER David Bartlett's vision of Tasmania as a capital of renewable energy has been eroded by the Government's policy on feed-in tariffs, power industry insiders warn. The renewable-energy industry has been campaigning for higher payments to those who feed energy back into the grid from household solar and wind installations. Energy Minister David Llewellyn said he had listened to the arguments for and against gross feed-in tariffs but had decided to legislate to maintain the status quo, by which Aurora Energy voluntarily paid around 19c a kW to household power generators.

The NSW Government has recently announced a gross feed-in tariff of 60c a kW to provide an incentive for householders and businesses to instal renewable energy systems. "We are satisfied that Aurora Energy's current policy of paying the full retail price for any electricity that is supplied back to the grid is fair and reasonable in the Tasmanian context." Mr Llewellyn said.

Renewable energy installer Rob Manson, of the company I Want Energy, said the decision would do nothing to realise the Premier's vision of Tasmania becoming the green energy capital of the southern hemisphere. "It is essentially an announcement about nothing." Mr Manson said. "It is a missed opportunity and hopefully they can right this wrong."

As late as last week. Government members were foreshadowing a major election pledge on feed-in tariffs. Greens leader Nick McKim said the move was a small step in the right direction. "Unless the Bartlett Government goes further, this will do little to drive distributed renewable energy generation in Tasmania." he said. Mr Bartlett said: "There are a whole lot of complexities and David Llewellyn is outlining a whole range of new plans for the energy industry."

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed news that more small businesses will be able to choose who they buy power from. From 2011 about 2600 businesses that pay more than $10,000 a year for power can access full retail competition. "Expanding competition has the potential to lower prices and increase innovation in the energy market," TCCI chief executive Robert Wallace said. There were no plans to allow residential customers to choose retailers.