Following on from the Energy Green Paper in September 2014, the Federal Government's Energy White Paper was released on 8 April 2015 with the intention to set out an energy policy framework for Australia and indicate the Government's priorities for energy market reform and investment.
Following on from the Energy Green Paper in September 2014, the Federal Government’s Energy White Paper was released on 8 April 2015 with the intention to set out an energy policy framework for Australia and indicate the Government’s priorities for energy market reform and investment.
There is strong support in the Energy White Paper (White Paper) for privatisation of electricity assets. The Government considers that ownership of energy assets by states and territories is in conflict with their proposed market reform agenda of limiting the role of government in energy markets.
The White Paper supports voluntary smart metering services to allow consumers to better manage their electricity use by shifting use away from peak periods in response to price signals. This would in turn help to reduce pressure on supply.
The Rollout of cost-reflective tariffs to reduce cross-subsidies between consumers is also supported in the White Paper. Under such tariffs, consumers are charged according to the actual costs of their energy use. Higher costs would be imposed at peak times with off-peak periods at a reduced rate.
The Government rejects the need for national interventions such as gas reservation, preferring instead the diversification of suppliers and encouraging additional supply in order to improve the functions of the gas market. In line with this, the Government expressed support for the Northern Territory Government in seeking to expand the gas pipeline network to connect the east coast to the Northern Territory.
In relation to renewable energy, the White Paper notes the Government’s stance on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) as an important tool to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity demand in 2020 comes from renewable sources and confirms its continued support. The requirement for the RET to be reviewed every two years is however to be removed.
Other key priorities set out in the White Paper include:
- Implementation of priority energy market reforms agreed by the Council of Australian Governments(COAG) Energy Council;
- Further development of market frameworks to encourage innovative products and services that give consumers more choice in managing bills and support greater competition;
- Further development of the national wholesale gas market to increase the liquidity and transparency of gas trading, and increase pipeline access;
- Better regulation and facilitation of the responsible development of unconventional gas resources;
- Assessment of whether there is adequate competition in the wholesale gas market;
- Provision of reliable and competitively priced liquid fuel supply; and
- Development of a National Energy Productivity Plan that provides action in cooperation with the states and territories and industry, covering the built environment, equipment and appliances, and vehicles.