Abbott Backs ACCC’s Call For Solar Subsidy Axing

Tony Abbott - solar subsidies

Tony Abbott | Image: via Facebook

Shock, horror. Tony Abbott has embraced the ACCC’s recommendation to axe Australia’s solar subsidy early.

Mr. Abbott says the Turnbull Government should be grateful Victoria is against the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and use it as an escape route.

“The government could then craft a new energy policy based largely on the ACCC’s recommendations which, unlike the NEG, were all about cutting price,”

Among the Abbott-approved recommendations recently made by the ACCC is the accelerated winding down and end of Australia’s small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES).

“..let’s end all the consumer subsidies for new intermittent power – because if the barrackers are right and it’s cheapest, they don’t need subsidies anyway,” stated Mr. Abbott.

The “solar rebate” is already being phased out. Uptake under the SRES has helped keep a lid on wholesale electricity prices, assisted many Australians in slashing their power bills and has made a significant contribution to electricity related emissions reduction. The SRES only comprises 1% of household electricity bills.

Mr. Abbott acknowledges ending consumer solar subsidies will require changes to legislation, which could be quite a challenge given the popularity of solar power in this country. There is another way around it – the Energy Minister can fiddle with the “small-scale knob” to create the same effect, something he was under pressure to do the last time the opportunity presented itself. However, that could have some nasty broader repercussions.

.. But Let’s Subsidise Coal

Mr. Abbott then went on to say:

“Subsidising renewables to lower emissions and then having to subsidise coal to keep the lights on is hardly optimum policy but it might be necessary given the mess we’re in.”

And there it is, with renewables providing the excuse to further prop up coal.

It’s not as though subsidising coal would be something new. Plenty of taxpayer support has been provided at various points along the little black rock’s value (or more accurately, destruction) chain.

As for keeping the lights on, some coal generators didn’t do so well on that during summer (but thankfully solar stepped up to the plate) and there have been various incident outside of summer. But if you throw enough coal poop against a wall, some of it will invariably stay stuck.

An alternative the ex-PM turned backbencher floated would be for “a government entity to secure any gap between likely demand and available 24/7 power and to use the additional capacity to keep the market honest.” .

Other items on Tony Abbott’s wish-list include:

  • Keeping the clapped-out coal-fired clunker, Liddell power station, open.
  • Requiring retailers to offer their best price to domestic consumers.
  • Doing battle with the states over various gas exploration and extraction bans.
  • Requiring all new renewable generators to provide 24/7 power.
  • Ending the legal ban on nuclear power.

Lipstick On A Pig

Mr. Abbott says there’s no point trying to find a consensus with Labor on the NEG and stated if Prime Minister Turnbull had taken as much notice of his own backbench as he does of the senate cross bench, the government would not find itself in its current position.

“If John Howard’s ministers had brought a submission to the party room that had at least six MPs threatening to cross the floor and at least a dozen more expressing deep scepticism, along the lines that “this is putting lipstick on a pig”, they would have been sent straight back to the drawing board – and this is where the energy minister should go.”

Tony Abbott et al. are by no means lone voices in the wilderness regarding the NEG. It’s been treated with suspicion/derision by some from all corners of the political arena and beyond.

And while it may be easy to hate on Tony Abbott for hating on solar, he’s actually done a lot for uptake. Every time he’s rattled his subsidy-cutting sabre (the edge of which is a little dull and rusty these days after losing the Prime Ministerial scabbard), Australians have flocked to the bill-busting technology.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Hi Michael

    With all the talk about getting rid of the SRES, there is hardly any mention in the media about how much money is given to coal.

    There is also no talk about axing the solar bonus scheme in Qld where home that got in early are still being paid 44 cents until July 2028 . Surely this should be looked at first as all these systems have paid themselves off by now

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