Australian Greens Propose Energy Savings Agency

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne says an ‘Energy Savings Agency’ will make Australia’s energy system fairer, cheaper and cleaner.

Announcing the plan on Friday, Senator Milne said Federal and State Governments had failed to prevent a blowout in spending on poles and wires; accusing some state governments on profiting from their electricity assets.

“Selling less electricity is not in their interest which is why reform of the energy market is too slow and why intervention is vital.”

The Greens say the Federal Government had committed to fast-tracking establishment of a National Energy Savings Initiative to replace state-based energy efficiency trading schemes, but three years on is yet to complete a Regulatory Impact Statement.

The proposed Energy Savings Agency would be an independent agency charged with disseminating information, analysis, advocacy and financial support to break down barriers to cheaper and cleaner energy options; such as solar power.

The Greens believe the Agency would also drive down power bills by achieving $1 billion in energy savings – energy efficiency is not only the low hanging fruit in slashing power bills; but also in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, a reduction of 3000 MW of peak demand would be achieved and 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided.

The Energy Savings Agency would also ensure solar power system owners are paid a fair rate for the surplus electricity they export to the mains grid.

According to a paper (PDF) released to coincide with the announcement, “fair value” for solar electricity has been underestimated to date as benefits such as avoided electricity distribution costs and time of production were undervalued.

Targets set under the Agency would initially be ‘collaborative targets’; becoming mandatory targets if networks “do not respond adequately to the targets in this form within 18 months”.

Senator Milne said the proposal has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and will cost $405 million to run each year.