Renewables target shouldn’t cover aluminium smelters: government backbenchers

A group of 25 Coalition MPs have signed a letter arguing for a cut in the Renewable Energy Target and an exemption from the scheme for aluminium smelters.

The Australian reports that the MPs include Wannon MP Dan Tehan, Andrew Nikolic from Bass (whose Tasmanian electorate includes the Bell Bay smelter, which pays about $8 million annually under the RET) and Ken O’Dowd.

The group is about half of the Coalition’s backbenchers and over a quarter of their MPs. They have urged industry minister Ian Macfarlane and environment minister Greg Hunt to reduce the RET for 2020, and for the aluminium industry to be exempted.

Tehan told the ABC that the aluminium industry was unique in its heavy energy needs.

"For instance the smelter in Tasmania uses 25 per cent of the electricity in Tasmania, in Victoria it's roughly 10 per cent," he told the ABC.

"[MPs] are concerned that there has been a smelter that has closed in the last two years, one which is scheduled to close this year."

The Australian Aluminium Council has argued that the RET is excessively punitive.

The coalition backbenchers would like the current target to be changed to a “true” 20 per cent target, about 26,000 gigawatt hours by 2020, from the current 41,000 gigawatt hours.

The target is under a review by former Manufacturing Australia head Dick Warburton, who will deliver his report in August.

Image: Reuters

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