Still no end in sight on RET impasse

There is still no sign that the opposition
and federal government will come to an agreement on a revised Renewable Energy
Target.

The opposition announced that it wanted to
revise the 2020 RET to a “true” 20 per cent total of all energy last year, roughly 26,000 gigawatt hours.

At present, the RET is 41,000 gigawatt
hours of energy by 2020.

Describing the current target as “broken”
and “out of step with the energy and consumer market in which it operates”, the
government wants to revise the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) to a “compromise”
target of 31,000 gigawatt hours.

“As the Government has made clear
throughout the negotiations, we are proposing to exempt emissions-intensive
trade-exposed sectors (EITEs),” said industry minister Ian Macfarlane and
environment minister Greg Hunt in a joint statement.

EITEs include the struggling aluminium
sector. Last week the AWU warned that the failure to pass legislation exemption aluminium makers from the RET was a “$80 million
anchor” on the industry and could see thousands of jobs lost.

“We won’t make any changes to small-scale
solar and we will also remove the requirement for regular two-yearly reviews of
the RET to give the industry the certainty it needs to move ahead,” Macfarlane and Hunt said yesterday.

Yesterday the opposition – which wants an
RET of in the “mid to high 30 gigawatt hour” range – met with clean energy
groups and others over the target.

“At the end of the day, we think the
Government needs to come back to the table and offer a different figure,” shadow environment minister Mark Butler told the ABC’s AM.

John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council
was disappointed over the proposed RET change, and that a 26,000 target would be the “destruction” of his industry.

“Tony Abbott went to the last election and
promised to support the existing Renewal Energy Target,” he said.

“This was bipartisan policy in the past
four federal elections.”

Image: Reuters