COAG meeting approves 'final design stage' of national energy policy

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 20, 2018

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council, comprising state and territory energy ministers, headed by Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, is meeting today to decide whether the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) proceeds to a final policy design in August or not.

"I think there is a recognition that there is more work to be done, there is a recognition that there is a lot of goodwill from all sides of this debate and there is a recognition that we will need to get an outcome in August", Frydenberg said heading into the meeting.

"The policy design needs more work before people make a final decision".

In a sign of progress in securing long elusive bi-partisan support, Labor opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler this week backed efforts to progress work on the National Energy Guarantee.

While no state or territory ministers have spoken out against support for a detailed design of the NEG, none have offered their full support for the plan at this stage. New Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says he is open to supporting the NEG.

Details of the policy were first unveiled in October 2017, after the federal government opted against Chief Scientist Alan Finkel's recommended Clean Energy Target.

"If the details we receive shortly will support South Australia, then we will support the National Energy Guarantee", he said.

A rare coalition of business groups, power providers, and energy consumers is urging states to back the plan, seeking an end to years of investment uncertainty which has led to blackouts and soaring power prices in Australia.

The current proposal would legislate a 26 per cent energy reduction target for the electricity sector.

The low ambition emissions reduction target is one of five points of contention for the ACT, while Queensland has also identified a renewables target of 50 per cent by 2030.

"It's a critical question and Minister Frydenberg needs to provide some specificity in how that will be achieved by the rest of the economy", Ms D'Ambrosio said on Friday morning.

The state Labor ministers are still pushing for the government to increase the 26 per cent emissions reduction target that would be legislated for the electricity sector.

Mr Rattenbury also committed to pursue more ambitious emissions reductions and renewable targets.

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