Renewable Energy Target (RET): in the interests of consumers

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is designed to ensure that at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. It aims to transform our electricity generation mix to cleaner sources (such as solar and wind) and to support growth and employment in the renewable energy sector. In the submission, PIAC notes that the economic, environmental and social impacts of the RET scheme have been well documented and are overwhelmingly positive for Australians. Especially because of the health impacts, replacing coal-fired generation with renewable generation is of most value to low income and vulnerable Australians. PIAC’s view is that the RET is in the long-term interests of consumers and that there is currently no need for changes to the RET, especially so soon after the Climate Change Authority’s (CCA’s) comprehensive review of the RET in 2012. PIAC’s submission outlines research which shows because of the way renewable energy decreases wholesale electricity prices, there is a net financial benefit of the RET for all consumers. In addition, this submission highlights a number of other important policy directions that should be pursued to ensure that the electricity market functions more effectively for Australian consumers. PIAC urges the Government to focus on the more significant areas of network pricing, wholesale spot market operation and retail margins to counteract instances of market failure and ensure that Australia’s market provides electricity that is accessible and affordable to all residential consumers. Also, complementary policies to ensure the individual benefits of the RET are realised by low-income and vulnerable households are recommended.

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