Chair of RET Review Not Looking Good

Climate Spectator had this post on Dick Warburton, the Chair of the RET review committee and his performance on a Fran Kelly interview after his review had been released. It gives a picture of a man who doesn’t understand his own report or anything much else apart from the need to recommend the destruction of the RET and all the jobs it has created.This section of the interview tells it all:

The trouble started at the beginning of the interview, with Warburton disputing Kelly’s suggestion that coal generators would be big winners out of his recommendations. Kelly promptly responded: “But doesn’t your own modelling estimate the value of the existing coal-fired power generators would increase by $9.1 billion?”

“Um … yes,” Warbuton replied. But he then bizarrely asserted this $9.1 billion windfall was of “neutral benefit to them [coal generators]”.

Subsequently, after Warburton admitted the RET would act to reduce retail electricity bills and was also successful at decarbonising electricity supply, the discussion moved to the nub of the review panel’s argument. Warburton explained that even though the RET might be effective at reducing emissions, the government’s proposed Emissions Reduction Fund – the centrepiece of its Direct Action policy – “would be a far less expensive” way of doing the same thing.

It got even worse when Kelly challenged Warburton to explain why he was confident that something that hadn’t been defined or costed would work out cheaper.

Kelly, rather puzzled, pointed out that we don’t actually know the cost of reducing emissions under the ERF because the government is yet to release any costings of the scheme (seeHunting for Hunt’s Direct Action costings for background). She then noted that Warburton’s recommendation to cut the RET would pass costs onto, via the ERF, taxpayers to fund achievement of the 5 per cent emission reduction target.

Warburton then appeared to reveal he doesn’t understand the ERF is funded by taxpayers, and oddly disputed her assertion. He then continued to argue that there were “less expensive means of reducing emissions [than the RET].”

Kelly then asked the obvious: “What are those less expensive means, have you modelled those?”

Warburton: “Well, we just said the Emissions Reduction Fund.”lly: “But we don’t know yet how much that’s going to be.”

Warburton then gave the game away, admitting “we don’t know the figure” for the abatement cost of the ERF.  But he then confidently asserted it would be way short of the cost of the RET.

I will leave you to read the article.

The temptation, of course, is to use the review and its merry crew of wind mill tilting Don Quixote’s as a point of attack against Abbott.  However, Abbott killed the RET 18 months ago and all the rubbishing in the world is not going to restore the durable bipartisanship needed to make the RET work’

We need to start looking at alternatives to the RET that don’t require bipartisanship.

On the other hand polling has shown a rise in support for the RET

Support for maintaining the Renewable Energy Target has climbed from 77 per cent to 82 per over the past 12 months, with awareness of the scheme up from 44 to 59 per cent, The Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the newspaper, the Crosby ­Textor poll, conducted Wednesday, also found that those who thought the RET would increase power prices had fallen from 72 to 62 per cent. The Pacific Hydro-commissioned poll also found Coalition voter support for keeping the RET was 70 per cent.

The poll by the firm – which is also the Coalition’s long-term political pollster, and which used a sample of 1000 people – found a rising concern for environmental issues across the board in the past year, rising in the ‘top of mind’ category from 3 to 13 per cent, as immigration fell from 33 to 18 per cent.

Maybe letting Abbott and Warburton squirm for a while has its attractions.

3 thoughts on “Chair of RET Review Not Looking Good”

  1. The link is fixed Brian.

    Climate Spectator pointed out today that the share price of windpower company Infigen actually went up 7% after the release of the review.

    Also, since the review’s report was released Climate Spectator has held discussions with a number of key players in the renewable energy industry. These reveal a group who appear surprisingly upbeat given the RET Review’s recommendations would kill the wind and bioenergy power industry in the country and likely slice in half the market for solar.

    This is because they almost universally feel the Warburton Review report is extremely helpful to their interests.

    Industry participants were most worried that the fossil fuel interests in conjunction with climate sceptic Coalition MPs would repeat their carbon tax cost-of-living scare campaign against the RET. However, the Warburton Review has confirmed the industry’s own analysis that the scheme is more likely to reduce retail electricity prices than increase them. It hobbles Tony Abbott’s ability to repeat his claim that the RET was “adding significant price pressure” to power bills.

    In addition, these executives feel the report’s central argument for taking the axe to the scheme is weak and vulnerable. It’s reliance on the claim that the Emissions Reduction Fund would be a cheaper means of reducing emissions they believe fails to carry weight with journalists and economic analysts who for the most part consider that scheme as token fig leaf. In addition, the report’s suggestion that the scheme must be pared back because it is adding to overcapacity in the power market appears to have been greeted with a yawn in the media. It simply serves to reinforce a populist line that it will be big, polluting power companies that will gain from scaling back renewable energy; not consumers.

    Warburton’s comments to Fran Kelly would be encouraging those who want to attack the report as well.
    The real question though is whether a dropping of changes to the RET would give the industry the confidence needed to start investing on the basis of the RET surviving long enough to give them a reasonable return.

  2. In the meantime the ACT’s 20MW Royalla solar farmhas just opened. Investment in this plant has been justified by the ACT’s contract driven
    ACT’s Solar Auction scheme
    Contract driven schemes dont need bipartisanship to work because the contract protects investors from changes in government policies. They have the added attraction of being able to be run by entities like the ACT even if the federal government has been taken over by climate skeptics.

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