Industry, clean energy companies join in RET call

Industry groups, clean energy companies and electricity users have penned an open letter to the government, requesting a compromise on the renewable energy target (RET).

The ABC reports that the Australian Aluminium Council, the Business Council of Australia, the Cement Industry Federation, the Clean Energy Council, the Energy Users Association and the Tasmanian Ministers and Energy Council all signed the letter demanding a resolution to the RET impasse.

The letter follows reports last week that the government will not compromise from its preferred target of sourcing 32,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The Clean Energy Council had suggested a compromise of 33,500Gwh.

"[The CEC compromise] provides a strong basis for a speedy negotiated outcome," the letter read.

"The uncertainty of this unresolved review is having a material and detrimental impact on the renewable energy sector, energy users, the traditional energy sector and the broader business community.

"The impact will increase significantly if the issue remains unresolved."

According to the Australian, Victorian Liberal member Sarah Henderson broke ranks with the government. She also agrees with the compromise figure of 33,500GWh and told the Australian the government should accept it.

The aluminium industry will be the hardest hit if a deal is not struck by tomorrow, when parliament will rise for a six-week break. If that happens, aluminium smelters will have to pay $80 million a year in RET liabilities.

Australian Aluminium Council executive director Miles Prosser said the future of the four aluminium smelters “is closely tied to the willingness of the parliament to reach a resolution without delay’’.

At present the target is 41,000 GWh, a figure which was originally intended to represent 20 per cent of Australia’s energy usage.

However the Government wanted to reduce the target to 26,000 GWh, on the grounds that, because of declining energy usage, that figure represents a ‘true 20 per cent’.

Since then, the Government has shifted to 32,000 GWh, but it does not want to shift any further.

However, Labor and the renewables industry have been pushing for a figure in the mid-to-high 30,000s.