Tuesday 19 August 2014

Hansard of the Legislative Council

Renewable Energy Target


  1. What steps is the Tasmanian Government taking to persuade the Federal Government to keep the renewable energy target at one-fifth of power production by 2020, given the advantageous position of Hydro Tasmania in that sector?

  1. What plans does the State Government have for a second Basslink cable to sell power to the mainland, given the uncertainty over the future of the Bell Bay aluminium smelter?

  1. Given that last year 70 per cent of Hydro Tasmania's profit came from selling power to the mainland, what steps is the Government taking to increase wind power generation in Tasmania?


Mr President, I thank the member for Rosevears for his question.

(1) The Tasmanian Liberal Government remains unequivocal in its support for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) which recognises and rewards Tasmania's generation of clean renewable energy.

The Renewable Energy Target supports Tasmanian jobs and economic growth and that is why we remain committed to it. The Government has made a submission to the Renewable Energy Target review team as well as meeting the review panel. In our submission to the review, the Government advocated for the continuance of the scheme and for Tasmania to play a larger role in renewable energy into the future. The Government is committed to growing the economy and creating jobs, including effectively utilising our energy assets as an economic driver to attract investment and retain existing industry.

The minister, Mr Groom, has met with Dick Warburton in Tasmania during the consultation phase of the review and made a formal submission. Hydro Tasmania has also made a submission to the Warburton review regarding the importance of the measure to its business.

We have advocated strongly on behalf of Tasmania's interests in our discussions with senior Commonwealth Government ministers, in our submission to the RET review, and in other forums, and we will continue to do so.

While it is important not to pre-empt the outcome of the RET review, the Tasmanian people can be assured that the Tasmanian Liberal Government will fight for Tasmania's interests.

(2) The Government is determined to develop an attractive business environment in Tasmania for businesses ranging from small to large industries, like Bell Bay Aluminium. In relation to the RET and large energy intensive businesses, we have called for a full exemption for highly tradeexposed businesses, such as Bell Bay Aluminium, to help ensure these businesses have a secure future in this State.

We are committed to our election commitments and will progress an investigation into a second interconnector. How future demand will be met is one of many issues being looked at by this Government and will be dealt with in our whole-of-state energy strategy which we plan to release by the end of the year. As part of the current review and development of a new whole-of-state energy strategy, the recently released issues paper makes specific mention of the potential a second interconnector could have, and the strategic context from which further work should be done to consider its feasibility. The Government is consulting with Hydro Tasmania and TasNetworks on research done to date, and is continuing assessment of the opportunity.

(3) The development of future wind power projects will be made on a commercial basis by investors. With declining demand for electricity across Australia the economics of wind farms may prove challenging. However, with coal-fired generators coming to the end of their life and with gas prices forecast to increase, the prospects for significant further wind development should not be discounted. The Tasmanian Government is always looking for opportunities to encourage investment in Tasmania, particularly investment in renewable energy. This issue is also being considered as part of the whole-of-state energy strategy.

There are a number of potential Tasmanian wind farm developments in the concept, planning and/or pre-commercial phases. Confidence in a sustainable and long term RET is vital to these and other renewable energy projects.