News | 6th Apr, 2011

Vic won’t meet renewable target – auditor-general

Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Alison Caldwell, ABC PM

ASHLEY HALL: In Victoria, an auditor-general's report has found the state won't meet its renewable energy targets, and it blames poor planning by the former Brumby government.

In 2002, the then Labor government committed to increasing the share of Victoria's electricity consumption from renewable sources from 4 per cent to 10 per cent by 2010.

But the auditor-general has found that simply setting targets hasn't done the job of driving the development of renewable energy in Victoria.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Almost all of the electricity consumed by Victorians, around 96 per cent of it, is generated from fossil fuels, namely brown coal.

For nearly a century, brown coal has been a cheap and reliable option for Victoria, but it's also responsible for producing 55 per cent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2002, the then Bracks Labor government committed to increasing the share of Victoria's electricity consumption from renewable sources from 4 per cent to 10 per cent by 2010.

The government extended that out to 2016 when it became clear the renewable energy targets weren't going to be met.

In a report to parliament today, the auditor-general says that when the targets were first established in 2002, Victoria's share of electricity generated from renewable sources was around 3.6 per cent.

But by the end of 2009, this had increased only to around 3.9 per cent, an increase of just .3 per cent.

In the report, the auditor-general writes:

EXCERPT FROM AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORT: The basis for the overall renewable energy and wind energy targets remains unclear. Before they were established no assessments were undertaken to determine whether the 2002 targets and time frames were achievable. In addition, no plan was subsequently developed to set out how the targets would be achieved. There was no evidence to show that planning was effective or the targets soundly based.

ALISON CALDWELL: In July last year the Brumby government announced a new solar energy target for Victoria; 5 per cent by 2020.

The government committed to a solar feed-in tariff to provide financial incentives for businesses to invest in solar energy, with consumers helping to foot the bill.

The then premier John Brumby was asked to detail how much it would cost the average household.

JOHN BRUMBY (July 2010): Well the cost of that if you like per household will be in the range through the life of this program of $5 to $15 per household per year.

ALISON CALDWELL: The auditor-general says the real cost will be closer to $47 per household each year.

MICHAEL O'BRIEN: Well the auditor-general has blown the whistle on the Labor Party's dishonesty and incompetence when it comes to renewable energy.

ALISON CALDWELL: Michael O'Brien is the Minister for Energy and Resources.

MICHAEL O'BRIEN: Labor told Victorian families that they would only pay between $5 and $15 a year for the large scale solar feed-in tariffs. Now that claim has been exposed as being an absolute lie.

ALISON CALDWELL: The Minister says the Baillieu Government will need to re-examine the state's renewable energy programs and targets in the light of the auditor-general's report.

MICHAEL O'BRIEN: What expands renewable energy isn't writing a target down on a piece of paper, it's having a policy framework that encourages renewables to actually be created. So, we're not interested in setting targets for the sake of it, because Labor's approach has shown that doesn't work.

ALISON CALDWELL: Mark Wakeham is with Environment Victoria. He says careful planning and consideration are needed before renewable energy targets are set.

MARK WAKEHAM: Well it highlights that there wasn't the appropriate levels of planning for a lot of the renewable energy programs, some of which have also been supported by the Baillieu Government. So the large scale solar target of 5 per cent is a target that the Baillieu Government has supported and it's really important that they now develop a plan to implement and meet those targets.

ALISON CALDWELL: Mark Wakeham wants the solar feed-in tariff to remain. He maintains it will encourage investment in solar energy.

The Baillieu Government isn't about to scrap the scheme. Energy Minister Michael O'Brien says it will be reviewed by Victoria's Competition and Efficiency Commission.

ASHLEY HALL: Alison Caldwell.



More resources

Everything we've got on renewable energy
Everything we've got on energy efficiency