States backing cheaper renewables: Victoria and New South Wales reject coal

Coal mining

Victoria and New South Wales have banded together to reject the proposal of a ‘Coalkeeper’ tax, seeing it as a plan to prolong the life of coal generators while renewable energy continues to thrive.

The proposed tax would essentially subsidise uncommercial coal and gas-fired power plants operating even if the electricity they produce is unused.

This proposal has come from the Energy Security Board and has been backed by Federal energy minister Angus Taylor. But the energy market generally is convinced that the proposal is in place to pay coal and gas generators to remain open, despite the increase in cheaper renewable energy production around the country. 

Green energy think tank the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has estimated that the ‘Coalkeeper’ payments would cost consumers $2.9 billion to $6.9 billion, which equates to $182 to $430 per household per year on energy bills. 

Rejection of the plan, desire to cut carbon holds

New South Wales and Victoria have both publicly opposed the proposal through statements from their respective energy ministers, and no other state has come out as a strong supporter of the scheme which may mean it is doomed before it can even begin. 

“Victoria wants to reassure investors in wind and solar farms and storage such as giant batteries that it will not adopt any mechanism within the NEM that undermines the state’s ambition to cut carbon emissions,” Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said in a statement.

The reassurance delivered to renewable energy investors echoed earlier comments by New South Wales energy minister Matt Kean when his state distanced itself from the proposal. 

State and territory governments are embracing the environmental and financial benefits of clean energy infrastructure and production, and cutting costs for consumers. 

Large-scale renewable energy projects continue in operation and development around the country as the share of green power on Australia’s main grids soars. Rooftop solar also continues to increase, with more than 2 million households now supplying their own power. 

While coal has long been the main energy generator on Australian grids, the introduction of cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources have begun to take on a large portion of generation capacity. Coal has been touted as a more-reliable energy source, but improvements across the green power sector have seen the need for fossil fuels continue to diminish. 

The shift to cleaner energy sources means customers will see savings on their energy bills as power prices fall.

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