Cheap Coal Plans Threaten Renewable Energy In NSW

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The NSW Government’s plan to provide cheap coal to electricity generators has seen the Nature Conservation Council of NSW lodging a complaint with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.
The Nature Conservation Council has asked the ACCC to investigate possible breaches to competition law arising from the Keneally government’s development of a coal mine in Cobbora.
The $1.3 billion coal mine will supply electricity generators owned by the state with coal at just $35 to $40 a tonne, substantially below the export market price of $60 to $70 a tonne. The Nature Conservation Council says it is an artificial subsidy for polluting coal-fired power generation.
According to Nature Conservation Council of NSW Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke, the government subsidy of coal prices threatens the uptake of clean, renewable energy sources such as solar power and would distort energy markets. 
“The $1.3 billion would be more wisely invested in making NSW a world-leader in innovative, low emissions power generation, driving economic growth through new jobs and export opportunities for the state”, said Mr Clarke. 
NSW recently went from having one of the most generous solar feed-in tariffs in Australia to one of the least generous. 
The issue of coal subsidies has been of increased focus of late as attention has been drawn to the cheap energy era that never was. These subsidies, while not reflected on the sticker price of coal fired power generation, are paid for by the community in other ways; such as higher taxes and an erosion of other services.
Additionally, many of the costs involved with fossil fuel based power generation are yet to be paid in terms of the environmental damage wrought by their use; including their major contribution to climate change – issues that solar power and wind energy can help address.