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Ministers agree to compromise on national energy plan


Energy ministers have reached a compromise on the Turnbull government’s signature energy plan in a decision the policy architect says is a “great step forward”.

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Draft state legislation for the implementation of the National Energy Guarantee could be released for public consultation as early as next week.

State and territory energy ministers agreed at a meeting in Sydney today that the consultation period would kick off if the policy makes it through the Coalition party room at a meeting in Canberra next Tuesday.

The final decision will be made by state and territory ministers in a teleconference after the meeting.

Energy Security Board chairwoman Kerry Schott, who helped design the policy, told the meeting the result was “a great step forward”.

The draft legislation would implement changes to the National Electricity Law and must be passed by the South Australian parliament for the guarantee’s reliability requirements to come into effect.

It, and federal legislation to set the target for emissions reduction in the electricity sector, must undergo four weeks of public consultation before parliament can consider it.

Heading into the day-long meeting, federal Energy minister Josh Frydenberg said the responsibility of ministers was to provide an energy solution for the future.

“Australian eyes are on this room today and what happens here matters around every Australian kitchen table and every Australian factory floor,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was confident of a result after Tuesday’s meeting.

“We have a discussion and the party room makes decisions by consensus. There is very strong support for the National Energy Guarantee,’ he said.

There has been opposition to elements of the policy from Victoria, Queensland and the ACT.

Victoria set out a series of demands, including that the policy must get Coalition party room support before they give it the green light.

Negotiations began with ministers at a meeting on Thursday night, after which Frydenberg revealed he was confident of a result.

Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler welcomed the progress but would not yet say if Labor would back the policy through parliament.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we haven’t even seen draft legislation,” he said.

But he said if and when legislation came before federal parliament Labor would continue its push for a higher 45 per cent emissions reduction target.

The NEG centres on 26 to 28 per cent targeted reduction on 2005 level greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

At the same time, the aim is to ensure energy supply is reliable and electricity retailers invest in dispatchable energy sources, with the greater supply driving down prices.

Schott warned on Thursday that if an agreement wasn’t reached in the next week or so the opportunity for a NEG was “probably gone”.


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