RET cut finally passes Parliament

Legislation to cut the renewable energy target (RET) has passed Federal Parliament, following a contracted stand-off between the major parties.

The ABC reports that the legislation means that Australia has now committed to generating 33,000 gigawatt hours of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The original RET, created by the Howard Government in 2001, was 41,000 gigawatt hours. That figure was originally intended to represent 20 per cent of the nation’s energy usage.

However, given that energy usage is expected to fall by 2020, the government argued figure was greater than 20 per cent and decided to change it. This led to the stand-off.

As part of the agreement, the Clean Energy Regulator will provide an annual statement to Parliament and on progress of the RET. It will also monitor the effect the RET is having on energy prices.

Controversially, the target will include the burning of wood-waste as a renewable energy source.

As AAP reports, the Greens slammed the decision to include this on the grounds that it will threaten native fauna. Greens deputy leader Larissa Waters said it was akin to printing dead koala certificates.

Kate Carnell, CEO of ACCI said the RET cut is good news for business and energy users.

 “The reduction of the target from 41,000 gigawatt hours is a sensible reform that acknowledges the changed circumstances of lower overall demand for energy than originally anticipated,” she said in a statement.

 “Securing Senate support for the reforms is the last major hurdle and an enormous relief to energy users."