RET axe would benefit big business: report

retSCRAPPING the Renewable Energy Target (RET) could deliver power companies more than $10 billion in profit, contribute to carbon pollution and reduce investment in renewable projects, an environmentalist report has claimed.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) stated that abolishing the RET would lift carbon pollution by about 150 million tonnes to 2030 and increase pollution costs to more than $14 billion.

A further $8 billion would be lost in renewable capacity with NSW and South Australia hit the hardest – each losing more than $2 billion in investment – and electricity prices would rise by an average of $30 per year after 2020, the report stated.

Who Really Benefits from Reducing the Renewable Energy Target? was commissioned by The Climate Institute, the ACF and World Wildlife Fund Australia. “Companies like Origin… are pushing to weaken the target not, as they like to claim, because that would be good for customers, but a weaker target is better for their bottom line,” The Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said.

However, an Origin Energy spokeswoman said the company was a long-standing supporter of the RET. “We do not support terminating the scheme as this would reflect poor public policy and strand investment that has been made in good faith,” she said.

“We understand that some in the community would like to see Australia move to 100 per cent renewables tomorrow.

“However, introducing more renewable energy needs to be done in a way that it balances reducing emissions with the costs to consumers and the need to maintain reliable energy supply to support our standard of living.”

Meanwhile, the WA Renewable Energy Alliance (WAREA) has urged the government not to kill off projects in WA by cutting the RET.

“The large and small scale renewable energy industry in WA has thrived due to the RET, and its potential for continued growth is unparalleled,” WAREA chairman Richard Harris said in an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“Many thousands of people are currently employed in the sector. “Under the RET, renewable energy in WA has the ability to deliver thousands of additional megawatts of clean electricity, to attract investment, to increase energy security, to hedge consumers against conventional fuel price rises, to reduce emissions, and to create thousands of much-needed jobs as the resources industry sheds them.”

The WAREA stated that cutting or abolishing the RET would not lower electricity prices for consumers, would cause thousands of WA workers to lose their jobs and slash renewable energy investment in WA.

A report released by Deloitte Access Economics last month stated the RET would cost Australia billions of dollars and cause job losses. Assessing the Impact of the Renewable Energy Target claimed the policy would cost the economy up to $28 billion.

The Federal Government has commissioned its own review of the RET, which aims to reduce Australia’s emissions by 5 to 25 per cent by 2020, from 2000 levels, and ensure at least 20 per cent of electricity was sourced from renewable energy.