CCIQ questions how much renewable energy target will cost

Wednesday 12 October, 2016

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) welcomes the State Government’s renewable energy target, but questions how much it will ultimately cost small business.

CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said the Renewable Energy draft report and its 50 per cent target was ambitious, with both substantial opportunities to the economy and risks.

“Queensland small businesses have been reticent in the past to adopt renewable energy sources due to the high costs associated with products and installation,” he said.

“However, the past several years have seen an increase in uptake due to the decreasing cost of renewable energy together with government subsidies.”

CCIQ noted that small business across Queensland had a diverse range of views when it came to renewable energy.

“Many small businesses are constrained by their situation depending on where they are located, whether they are a tenant or whether they have flexibility and finances to explore alternative options.” Mr Behrens said.

“But businesses generally support a transition away from conventional energy towards more renewable energy sources. Many strongly approve of increasing the use of solar energy. However, CCIQ ultimately believes that the market should be the main determinant of where we land.

“Increasing electricity prices is the most significant business issue at present. CCIQ is pleased Energy Minister Mark Bailey has provided a commitment that electricity bills will not increase as a consequence of the 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target.

“While a 50 per cent target would have a cost neutral impact on Queensland’s electricity consumers, it could cost taxpayers up to $900 million.

“The extent of this subsidy is substantial and its cost will inevitably be borne by households and business, hidden though taxes – not necessarily electricity bills.

“Given that government subsidies are eventually paid for through Consolidated Revenue, of which businesses contribute 65 cents in every dollar raised, CCIQ is extremely cautious about the target.”

Mr Behrens said it was encouraging the expert panel believed Queensland could meet a 50 per cent renewable energy target while maintaining electricity security and reliability.

“The extraordinary experience of South Australia being put out of action by a storm earlier this month has put the spotlight on renewable energy policy. It has certainly reignited a debate about the pursuit of renewable energy targets by states and the role of the Federal Government,” he said

Mr Behrens said the impact on jobs, with a net increase in employment of around 6400 to 6700 direct and indirect jobs per annum between 2020 and 2030, was good news. The draft report also finds there would be $6.7 billion of new investment through the 50 per cent renewables by 2030 target, delivering huge benefits to the Queensland economy.

“We also welcome the finding that Queensland shouldn’t pursue the implementation of carbon pricing policy. We commend the government for ruling it out,” he said.

“Business wants to move away from coal-fired electricity generation and turn to renewables and the State Government has a role to enable this to occur. It’s just a question of how much are we willing to pay to achieve this commendable target.”

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