Liberal backbencher Angus Taylor has once again targeted wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target.
In a Canberra Times report on the planning approval for the Collector wind farm, Mr Taylor “hinted the RET review would likely prove the undoing of the wind farm industry.” Angus Taylor told the Times
“Projects like this seem set to continue unabated until a national review – which the new federal government has committed to in 2014 – can reveal the true economics behind the industry. The RET review will look into the massive subsidies for wind farms, which are forcing up electricity prices and propping up an economically unviable industry.”
The Member for Hume has a long track record bagging wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target. Taylor even appeared at a poorly attended rally at Parliament House in June opposed to the clean energy technology and the RET policy. It’s no surprise then that Taylor claims wind energy is forcing up bills.
But is it? Is wind energy and the RET driving up power bills?
Data from the Australian Energy Market Commission (PDF) shows the RET accounts for less than two percent of the average household electricity bill – or a mere $35 from a $2000 bill. That’s around $0.70 each week over a year. For that investment, Australians are getting less pollution, more jobs, investment, and action on climate change (sounds like a win-win doesn’t it).
Transmission, distribution, and wholesale electricity prices are the largest contributors to increases in power bills. Dylan McConnell of the University of Melbourne Energy Institute agrees. In an article published by The Conversation, McConnell explains:
By far the largest contributor to the increasing prices over the past six years has been network costs. Network costs represent between 45 percent and 55 percent of a typical electricity bill, and it is this component has increased the most aggressively. In NSW, network costs accounted for 80 percent of the price increase in 2010-11 and 50 percent of price rises in 2011-12.
Contrary to Taylor’s claim, renewable energy is putting downward pressure on power bills. Energy analysts identify South Australia’s wind farms as the reason why that state’s wholesale electricity prices have dropped. This trend resulted in the SA Essential Services Commission directing energy companies to cut retail prices cut by 8.1 percent. If retailers comply, the move will lower the average power bill by $160 a year.
Despite the deficiencies with Angus Taylor’s arguments about wind energy, it’s puzzling that the member is so intent on stopping a sector that is highly popular with Coalition voters. Public polling shows 71 percent of Coalition voters support wind energy. When it comes to the RET, 64 percent of Coalition voters think the target is ‘about right’ or ‘not high enough’.
Rather than bash wind energy, Yes 2 Renewables would like to see the Member for Hume follow the lead of politicians such as Senator Peter Rae and Councillor Gwenda Allgood. Senator Rae’s example shows it’s possible to be a proud Liberal party member and supporter of renewable energy. After all, it’s in Mr Taylor’s interest to represent the views of his constituents.