The Energy Networks Association has warned that Australia needs to provide a better policy framework for energy and carbon if it is to meet the Australian Government’s post 2020 emissions targets without unnecessary costs to energy customers.

Energy Networks Association Chief Executive Officer, John Bradley, said Australia’s energy system could meet or exceed the Government’s emissions reduction targets of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but the cost to energy customers would be high if policy frameworks were not fixed.

“Australia’s electricity networks are vital to meeting and beating these targets – by connecting new renewable sources of supply, allowing the phaseout of emission intensive generation and unlocking benefits of small and large solar, storage and demand management.

“Our gas networks will help lower emissions from household hot-water and heating and provide clean energy for industrial processes and gas-fuelled vehicle fleets.”

Mr Bradley said that important energy reforms were required to meet the emission reduction targets at least cost.

“Australia urgently needs electricity tariff structures that are efficient and avoid cross subsidies between energy users, while supporting a 600 per cent increase in solar PV capacity by 2034.

“Our energy system is already changing dramatically, with electricity consumption per capita falling by 25 per cent in the last 10 years and over 1.4 million household generators now integrated to the Grid.”

Mr Bradley said the Australian Government and COAG Energy Council should urgently progress commitments to electricity tariff reform and more coordinated carbon policies.

“Independent analysis shows that without tariff reform, average electricity bills will be $250 higher in 20 years, so it’s vital we get pricing reform in place now to take pressure off consumers.

“This announcement indicates the National Energy Productivity Plan will be important to mitigate economic impacts of emissions targets..

“Cost reflective tariffs would achieve an economic benefit of $17.7 billion by 2034 by avoiding inefficient investment in energy services.

“Australia needs to meet or beat these emission reduction targets through least cost abatement measures that are ‘technology neutral’ and last more than one election cycle.

“Whether you are a customer investing in solar and storage technology over 10 or 15 years – or a network investing in community assets for 50 years – Australia needs a stable investment environment.

“Without a predictable investment environment on emissions reduction, Australians will pay through the nose to make this essential transition,” Mr Bradley said.

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