National Energy Guarantee Battle Heats Up

Josh Frydenberg and John Grimes

Images: Josh Frydenberg via Facebook and Smart Energy Council

In a fight between Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes, who would win? 

As mentioned early last week, the most recent COAG Energy Council meeting saw a green light given by all the states and territories to the Energy Security Board moving ahead with the development of the detailed design of the National Energy Guarantee; with view to a final decision by the Council at its meeting in August. While giving the nod, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT expressed serious concerns about its design.

The Smart Energy Council (SEC) was also less than impressed with where the NEG is currently at and where it fears it is heading, believing it to be anti-renewables and worse than doing nothing.

It hastily arranged a webinar for last Monday that it called an “industry crisis briefing”, which the SEC says was tuned into by hundreds.

“Strong Action Needed”

Presenters participating in the webinar warned the NEG, without significant changes, will result in the loss of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment in renewables. It will also see the huge pipeline of renewable energy projects between 2020 and 2030 lost and stymie states in taking their own action on climate change.

 “We urgently need to regain the initiative in this important policy debate,” said Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes.

According to the Council, 96 per cent of webinar participants agreed, supporting strong action. A recording of the webinar event can be viewed here or a roundup of what was discussed here.

The Council is filling a war chest to finance a fight, one it has promised will be a ruthless campaign. It seeks an emissions reductions target of greater than 50 per cent by 2030 and enabling additionality for states with regard to their own renewables targets.

It will also call for support from the Queensland, Victorian and ACT governments to oppose the NEG at the August meeting if the Federal Government does not agree to the much stronger emissions targets.

The Frydenberg Strikes Back

News of the Smart Energy Council’s campaign and other recent criticisms of the NEG made its way back to Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, who reportedly said some NEG opponents are more interested in rent-seeking than pursuing what’s good for Australia.

“The Minister called anyone who dared criticise the National Energy Guarantee ‘green left zealots’ and ‘ideologues’, and not working in the national interest,” said an emailed statement from the Smart Energy Council attributed to Mr. Grimes. “The Minister’s personal attack is a really positive sign. It means our campaign, only one week old, is biting hard.”

The Council says Minister Frydenberg’s focus on “nasty personal attacks” indicates he is afraid to have a proper policy debate and it will continue to ramp up pressure on the Government.

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.


  1. Patrick Comerford says

    I agree totally with the sentiments and comment made by the Smart Energy Council. It is obvious that the LNP states of NSW SA and Tasmania have been neutered and therefore will betray the best interests of there communities. But I sincerely hope that the Labor state governments who are walking a tightrope towards the August meeting do not drop the ball and agree to this pathetic attempt by Turnbull to destroy another essential future industry just like the NBN. All to save his own political skin and at the expense of an electricity grid that serves the needs of the community and not foreign large multinational companies.

  2. “The Council is filling a war chest to finance a fight, one it has promised will be a ruthless campaign. It seeks an emissions reductions target of greater than 50 per cent by 2030”

    That better not be taxpayers money filling their chest. The big boys (USA, China) aren’t worried about emissions of CO2, that era is over. Few people even talk about it any more, the dire predictions didn’t pan out and to the average person it just isn’t much of a concern compared to say the power prices.

    The only way forward is to axe all subsidies (and associated green tape) as they like the SEC have done their job but now are simply unaffordable; let the market settle. There will still be plenty of renewables and batteries will continue to improve etc. The sky will not fall over this issue.

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