Energy plan lashed

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Limestone Coast Protection Alliance chair Angus Ralton says comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison relating to South Australia's energy reliability are not based on fact.

By Raquel Mustillo

THE Limestone Coast Protection Alliance has lashed a bilateral and emissions agreement worth more than $1b between the Federal and State Government as “economic bastardry” which does “nothing but transfer taxpayer funds to companies who already don’t pay their way.”

According to the Federal Government the deal, which will include a $660m commitment from the Commonwealth and $422m from the State Government, will pursue initiatives to deliver affordable and reliable power, unlock gas supplies to prevent shortfalls, and invest in key emissions reduction projects.

The funding will also provide kickstart work on a new interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales, as well as emissions-reduction projects such as hydrogen.

The agreement includes a gas target of an additional 50 petajoules a year by the end of 2023 and a stretch target of 80 petajoules by 2030.

But Limestone Coast Protection Alliance chair Angus Ralton said South Australia had no problem with grid reliability, saying when Victorian powerlines went down in 2020, South Australia operated independently for 17 days without issue.

“The fact the Federal Government wants to give us a sledge and say our system is unreliable because we are too reliable on renewables is not founded in fact,” he said.

“We have the lowest average wholesale prices in the nation… if you take the spot prices day by day it will peak high and peak low and that is a straight up fact.

“Gas powered generation will fall – it’s already down 20pc – because there is no future for it, there are already moves to replace gas generation with synchronous condensers and the other states are looking to eliminate gas.

“As far as we can see, this is is nothing but intergenerational theft and economic bastardry which does nothing but transfer taxpayer funds to companies who already don’t pay their way.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said increasing the level of gas into the market will support the increase in renewable solar and wind power into the electricity system.

“One works with the other to deliver lower cost, lower emissions and reliable power,” he said.

“This deal also makes sure that Australia gets ahead and stays ahead in the new energy economy by supporting the next wave of technologies, with a $400m commitment for investing in key areas that have the potential to deliver new industries and opportunities for South Australians.

“This means more jobs and Australia not being left behind.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the South Australian to New South Wales interconnected will secure the South Australian grid, increase renewable energy and bring down bills for consumers by around $100.

“This agreement also coordinates our efforts to deliver a hydrogen export industry in South Australia, deliver carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions, deliver the infrastructure needed for electric cars, and generate new revenue for farmers from carbon reductions,” he said.

Mr Ralton warned Limestone Coast agricultural producers and exporters should remain vigilant of a de facto carbon tax as the European Parliament moves to introduce a carbon tariff for products entering the European Union.

“Anyone who is in an agriculture or export industry of any type needs to be aware that if a product comes for a more carbon intensive zone, countries will be taxing it,” he said.

“America is talking about this with the United Kingdom and the European Union given there is a renewed focus on climate policy.

“Everyone is serious about this except Australia and it won’t matter what we try and spin, we will be paying for it somewhere.

“After losing China as an export market, everyone needs to be looking at this seriously because even if our government doesn’t believe in climate change or you don’t believe in climate change, the rest of the planet does.”