The federal government’s Energy White Paper, released yesterday, has been largely welcomed by business leaders but criticised by environmentalists.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government wants to ensure Australians receive competitively priced and reliable energy supplies into the future.
According to the White Paper, this can be best achieved by promoting competition in energy markets, increasing energy productivity and facilitating investment in energy resources development.
“The measures in the Energy White Paper will deliver stable energy policy and efficient transparent markets that give consumers information to make choices about their energy use and industry the confidence to invest,” Macfarlane said.
As AAP reports, the paper suggests consumers pay more for energy during peak hours and less during times of low demand.
It also includes policies the government has already announced, such as encouraging states to sell off electricity assets.
It suggests increased use of coal seam gas and leaves open the possibility of the future introduction of nuclear energy. It says international nuclear energy developments should be monitored.
However, it rejects the concept of a domestic gas reserve.
Controversially, the White Paper says future energy policy should be "technology neutral". In other words, high polluting fossil fuel energy sources should be treated in the same way as clean renewable sources.
Environmentalists attacked this position. For example, the Climate Institute called it a "fantasy of climate ignorance", while Greens leader Christine Milne said the paper should be "binned along with the Warburton review into the RET".
Industry was more positive.
Welcoming the paper, Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the ACCI said, “The White Paper shows that Australia can reap substantial benefits by meeting global energy demand, which is expected to rise by over one-third by 2040. We can only achieve this by streamlining regulation and attracting investment into new projects and supply.
And the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) CEO Gary Dawson said, “In releasing the Energy White Paper, the Australian Government has agreed with industry’s calls for gas market reform by increasing gas supplies, improving competition and increasing information about gas supply availability and pricing.”