Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle.
Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle. Alistair Brightman

Qld welcomes shake-up in energy market as costs soar

THE Queensland government has welcomed plans by Tony Abbott to review Australia's Renewable Energy Target, saying it was increasing average bills by more than $81 a year.

Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the days of Queenslanders subsidising energy sources that were not commercially viable should be declared over by the expert panel.

"Unfortunately the RET is increasing Queenslanders electricity bills by $81.24 per year," the Sunshine Coast MP said.

"This is an unnecessary addition to the cost of living and along with the solar bonus scheme will increase bills by $276 this year.

"As part of the Newman Governments plan to grow our four pillar economy as promised at the election, we are embarking on the biggest reforms to the electricity system in a decade.

"Yet the RET and carbon tax remain as a handbrake on economic growth and a hindrance to long term reform."

Mr McArdle said renewable energy was important, but the challenge was making it cheap enough to compete with traditional forms of electricity.

He said he also hoped the expert panel would take into account the recent experience during the heatwave in Victoria where the contribution of renewable energy during the peak usage periods was very unreliable.

"This calls into account the usefulness of subsidising renewable sources of energy when they cannot be relied on, for day to day peak periods or on those really hot days when the electricity network is being stretched," he said.

Mr McArdle said the Queensland Government would be making a submission to the RET Review.

 Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane and Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt announced the review would be  undertaken by an expert panel, headed by Mr Dick Warburton AO LVO and will include Mr Matthew Zema, Dr Brian Fisher AO PSM and Shirley In't Veld.

."In particular, the review will consider the contribution of the RET in reducing emissions, its impact on electricity prices and energy markets, as well as its costs and benefits for the renewable energy sector, the manufacturing sector and Australian households,'' Mr Macfarlane said.

"Australia's diversity of energy sources is one of our greatest national strengths. Renewable energy has contributed to the energy mix, but we must ensure that the program is operating effectively.

Mr Hunt said: "The Government is committed to easing the pressure of electricity prices for families and business. That's why we're getting rid of the carbon tax. The carbon tax drives up the price of electricity but has had no significant impact on emissions."

The review will be provided to government by the middle of the year, which will in turn be an important input into the Energy White Paper process.

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