RET deal closer after intervention from Tony Abbott

The Government and the Opposition are close to finally
agreeing on Australia’s renewable energy target (RET), following Prime Minister
Tony Abbott’s intervention to dump two-yearly reviews.

The Australian reports that both parties will meet to
further discuss the deal today. It is expected that legislation will be passed before
the beginning of parliament’s winter recess on 25 June.

According to the Australian, Abbott met Environment Minister
Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and suggested the two-yearly
reviews, which Labor had declared a ‘deal breaker ‘and the renewables sector
had condemned, should be dropped.

Under the expected agreement, by 2020 33,000 gigawatt hours (or
about 23.5 per cent) of energy produced in Australia will come from renewable
sources. This figure was revised downwards from a previous target of 41,000
gigawatt hours.

The RET will not cover energy-intensive industries such as
aluminium. The exemption means that the aluminium industry will save $80m a
year.

According to the SMH, the idea of the two-yearly reviews
came from Macfarlene who believed the 33,000 gigawatt hour target would involve
a significant increase in renewable energy and would be hard for the industry
to meet. He felt the two-yearly reviews would ensure electricity prices
wouldn’t go up if the target isn’t met.

However, the renewables sector said such reviews would do
nothing to solve the current uncertainty which is stopping investment in the
sector. Along with the Labor Party, The Clean Energy Council rejected the
reviews.