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Govt overhauls renewable energy target scheme -

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Govt overhauls renewable energy target scheme

Alexandra Kirk reported this story on Friday, February 26, 2010 12:15:00

SHANE MCLEOD: The Federal Government calls it an "enhanced scheme". The Greens call it a back-flip.

The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has announced today Australia's renewable energy target
program will be split in two; small scale and large scale.

She says that'll provide more certainty for the two sectors and deliver more renewable energy than
the original 20 per cent target.

The Greens say they'll support the changes when the legislation goes to Parliament.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Ever since the Government introduced its legislation for a Renewable Energy Target
Scheme into Parliament last August the Greens have argued it was deeply flawed. But they voted for
it on the basis that something was better than nothing and the Senate let it through.

This morning though the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and the minister assisting her Greg
Combet had a change of heart.

PENNY WONG: Today Greg and I are announcing changes to the Renewable Energy Target Scheme that will
deliver more clean energy jobs, more renewable energy and provides certainty to both large scale
and small scale renewable energy providers. So these are enhancements to the renewable energy

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government has set a target of 20 per cent of Australia's energy coming from
renewable sources by 2020. Penny Wong says the "revamped" scheme will come in two parts.

A small scale renewable energy scheme will cover small scale technologies such as solar panels and
solar hot water systems. Renewable energy certificates will have a fixed price of $40 per megawatt
hour of electricity produced so households that take action to cut emissions will get direct

And there'll be a large scale renewable scheme delivering most of the 2020 target which will cover
wind farms and commercial solar and geothermal projects.

PENNY WONG: We anticipate on the modelling we've done to date that the energy, the increased
electricity cost will be around $3 to $4 a year on average for the household as a result of these

And what will that deliver? That will deliver certainty for the large scale sector and certainty
also for the small scale renewables that Australians have demonstrated that they want.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: For the Greens it's a case of I told you so. Greens Senator Christine Milne:

CHRISTINE MILNE: I call it a back-flip and I really welcome it. The Greens have been arguing that
we needed a 20 per cent renewable energy target and we need an energy efficiency target and that
mixing up the two meant we'd crowd out wind.

That is effectively what has happened. And I'm glad to say that the Minister is finally listening
to the industry and the Greens who have been campaigning on this for months.

So I really welcome the fact that now 41 gigawatt hours of the original 45 target is now going to
be reserved for large scale systems.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you agree with the Government that this will mean more jobs and possibly also
more energy produced from the renewable sector than the 20 per cent that they have set as a target?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well we argued for 30 per cent. The Government said it couldn't be done. But now
it is very clear that not only can it be done but it should be done.

And we will be seeing I'm sure more than 20 per cent renewables and greater pressure for the
Government to increase the targets.

In terms of jobs the Government was staring down job losses with the Roaring 40s Musselroe Bay farm
in Tasmania. AGL said this week there'd be no more wind farms unless they changed it. And in
Victoria there was also the decision there at Portland that people would have been given
redundancies up to 150 people this week.

So they really had no option but to confess that they had got it wrong and to come out and fix it.
And I really welcome that and really look forward to seeing the jobs grow in the renewable energy

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The emphasis seems to be on the renewable energy sector. Do you think there will be
any greater benefits for households?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well certainly the good thing here is that there's now room for large scale
renewables. But there's also the separate capacity now for smaller systems and that looks untapped.

So certainly it looks like a brighter future and a more secure future for small scale renewables
and for energy efficiency.

But I still think we should be moving towards an energy efficiency target and we should be moving
on to gross feed-in tariff structures. But never mind. In the meantime we have secured those jobs
for the wind industry and got some expansion happening in the renewable energy sector.

I am glad the Minister is listening at last.

SHANE MCLEOD: The Greens Senator Christine Milne. That report from Alexandra Kirk.