Renewable Energy Target Needs to be Amended

Joint statement from Kate Carnell, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia; and Brendan Pearson, Chief Executive, Minerals Council of Australia.

New modelling on the impact of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) on the economy underscores how the policy is pushing electricity prices up and raises doubts about earlier modelling that suggested prices would fall from 2021.

The research, commissioned by business groups the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Business Council of Australia and Minerals Council of Australia and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, provides a warning of the cost pressures that confront the Australian economy if the RET is to continue in its current form.

Deloitte Access Economics modelling shows the RET penalises electricity consumers by underwriting expensive renewable generation – a gross ‘wealth transfer’ of $17 billion to 2030.

The intended target of the RET scheme was to deliver 20% renewable energy by 2020. Lower demand for electricity has meant that, if allowed to continue on its current trajectory, the RET will deliver at least 28% renewable energy by 2020 at a large cost to Australia.

The flow-on effects to the rest of the economy of this mandated wealth transfer from consumers to producers is large, costing the economy up to $28 billion.

Even more concerning is the human cost, estimated at over 5,000 jobs.

The Deloitte Access Modelling also exposes the RET as a very expensive way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Deloitte estimate the cost of abatement under the scheme at $103 per tonne of CO2. This is in the order of four times more than the $25.40 per tonne carbon tax.

The report confirms the RET will see consumer and business electricity prices rise for the rest of the decade – adding an average of $49 a household per annum across the forecast period.

The research challenges the optimism of the government-commissioned modelling, which suggested that future retail electricity prices will decline after 2021. Deloitte’s research shows that despite a decrease in wholesale prices across the National Electricity Market, retail electricity prices (the actual price on a consumer’s electricity bill) will increase for the duration of the RET out to 2030. More realistic assumptions about the cost of technology, fuels and generator bidding behaviour matched with the fivefold increase in the current build rate of wind energy needed to meet the existing target, reveal a more concerning picture for electricity consumers and the economy as a whole.

What is clear is that the burden of the RET is real and will only serve to undermine Australia’s competitiveness if not changed.

For further information contact:

David Turnbull, Director of Communications, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (02) 62708019 mobile 0419 272 802

Scott Thompson, Director, Media and Public Affairs, Business Council of Australia, (03) 8664 2603 mobile 0403 241 128

Sid Marris, Director, Industry Policy, Minerals Council of Australia, (02) 6233 0600, mobile 0437 140 570

Assessing the Impact of the Renewable Energy Target (Report by Deloitte)

Assessing the Impact of the Renewable Energy Target (Summary of Report)