Turnbull to woo reluctant states to energy plan


SYDNEY • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government will provide modelling to the states in a bid to get them to back its proposed “national energy guarantee” to bolster reliability of Australia’s faltering electricity grid.

“It’s in the country’s interest and it’s in the states’ interests to get on board with this,” Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said in an Australian Broadcasting Corp television interview yesterday.

Australia’s six states and two territories will need to approve the national energy guarantee for it to function properly. That may be a tough ask, particularly in states such as South Australia and Victoria that are governed by Labor, the main political opponent to Turnbull’s ruling Liberal-National coalition.

Turnbull on Oct 17 ditched plans to set renewable power targets as part of his latest policy to lower electricity prices and require generators to guarantee reliable supply and limit emissions. The nation, one of the world’s biggest coal and gas exporters, is reeling from an energy crisis that has pushed up local power prices and cast doubt on the reliability of its grid.

Advocates for renewable energy have warned Turnbull’s decision to walk away from a clean energy target will mean a decline in clean-energy investment, leading to a jump in power prices. The government has argued that falling costs mean the technologies no longer need government subsidies to compete against traditional energy sources.

“We’re not going to support this because it reduces incentives and support for renewable energy,” South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill told reporters on Oct 19. Victoria Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has also been sceptical about Turnbull’s claims the plan will save average consumers as much as A$115 (RM380.58) a year.

The government is “absolutely confident” that the national energy guarantee will result in lower electricity prices, even though modelling on the plan is yet to be produced, Frydenberg said yesterday.

“We will be doing the modelling, we will be providing it to the state ministers,” Frydenberg said. The plan will be discussed with state energy ministers next month, he said.