Collier’s renewable energy word becomes cruel April Fools’ Day joke

2nd June 2009 - The Greens have described today’s confirmation of a net, rather than gross, feed-in tariff * for household renewable energy systems as a major policy backflip.

“Energy Minister Peter Collier’s clear promise of a gross feed-in tariff in Parliament on 1 April 2009 has now been shown to be nothing more than April Fools’ Day puffery, with environment-conscious householders and our changing climate the butt of a cruel joke,” said Greens (WA) MLC Robin Chapple, who re-enters Parliament for the party when the newly constituted Legislative Council sits for the first time tonight.

“During the election Mr. Barnett made a promise to the homeowners of Western Australia to reward investment in green energy” Mr. Chapple said, “but more recently it appears he is intent on discouraging homeowners to invest by calling the scheme ‘overly generous’ and proposing a net, rather than gross feed-in tariff.

“This would sharply reduce the potential rewards of household renewable energy and that’s a slap in the face to the thousands of Western Australians who have or are keen to invest in renewables.

“It also seems something of a slap in the face to his Energy Minister Peter Collier, who as recently as 1 April 2009 was quite explicit that the State Government supported a far superior gross feed-in tariff.” [see attached Hansard]

Mr Chapple said that concerns about how far the $13.5m in Government funding would go should be addressed by increasing investment in this vital, climate and jobs-friendly area, rather than reverting to an inferior net feed-in tariff system. Mr. Chapple said that the $13.5 million in funding for the scheme is ‘a drop in the ocean’ next to the long-term savings in energy infrastructure costs especially in regional WA.

“Mr. Barnett’s position is one that will dearly cost regional householders who might be considering contributing to local electricity grids, and would face far less return on their investment under a net feed-in tariff scheme,” Mr. Chapple said.

“While the Government dithers on promoting household renewable energy, regional and urban energy will instead be sourced – at ever-increasing cost – from dirty energy.”

Mr. Chapple further said that the contribution of household renewable energy to the Perth grid would help maintain a sufficient supply of power during peak demand in summer.

  • For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263

* A gross feed-in tariff is one where householders are paid a premium price on all electricity produced by renewable energy systems they install, such as roof-top photovoltaic and micro-wind systems. Net feed-in tariffs, on the other hand, pay premium prices only on the net power a household exports to the grid, if any, and therefore provide considerably less incentive to install such renewable energy systems. The ACT recently introduced a system of these superior gross feed-in tariffs, whereas a number of other states only use net feed-in tariffs. Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne has introduced a Federal Bill seeking to introduce a national, uniform, gross feed-in tariff scheme.

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