News | 20th May, 2010

Hazelwood to resist energy efficiency bid

Thursday, 20 May 2010
Tom Arup, The Age

A confidential submission accidentally released by the government shows the owner of the heavy-polluting Hazelwood brown coal power station will resist energy efficiency efforts because they could hit its bottom line.

International Power's submission to a taskforce developing an energy efficiency policy also states energy efficiency is only about power use, not energy production.

''The latter is climate change policy and should be examined in that framework,'' the submission says. ''International Power rejects any proposal to introduce climate change policy, under the guise of energy efficiency measures, which has the potential to destroy the value of existing investments in the generator sector.''

International Power's assets include Victorian brown coal power plants Hazelwood and Loy Yang B, both among the highest carbon-emitting plants in the developed world.

Environment Victoria campaign director Mark Wakeham said International Power, having ''weakened'' the emissions trading scheme, ''has energy efficiency in its sights, urging the government to slow its efforts and threatening that their business could be destroyed by energy efficiency policy''.

The release of the submission is the latest error by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, after making at least two mistakes in last week's federal budget.

The first was allocating $17 million in 2009-2010 and $13 million in 2010-2011 for a $30 million climate change ad campaign. The department has since revised the allocations to $7 million in 2009-10 and $23 million in 2010-11.

The second was committing $132 million to the Low Emissions Assistance for Renters program, which has been cancelled.

The department yesterday posted a correction on its website, stating the $132 million is actually for ''Green Start'', a program to succeed the bungled Green Loans scheme that helps households reduce their energy and water use.

Shadow parliamentary secretary for climate action Simon Birmingham said: ''Not only can't Minister Wong … and her department manage programs effectively, but they can't get their budget papers right, [do] reviews on time and keep submissions confidential.''

In further changes to Green Loans, Senator Wong announced yesterday that long-promised $50 green rewards cards to buy small energy-saving products will now require households to send in receipts to claim cash back, rather than the card being used in stores.

She also expanded the range of products that can be claimed to include ceiling fans and pool blankets, alongside water tanks and low-energy lightbulbs.