Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 9 June 2022) . . Page.. 1944 ..
has meant that they are not available and it has drawn more demand for gas generators. Australia’s gas supply has been running low, and there has been no domestic gas reserve.
Of course, the global geopolitics of the war in the Ukraine has meant we have seen a significant increase in the price of fossil fuels around the world, where Australia continues to export. Because the European countries are seeking to extricate themselves from Russian gas contracts, we are seeing upward pressure on gas prices, and Australia’s gas producers are exporting it rather than using it for domestic reasons. Similarly, there is the cold weather. All of these factors together have seen a significant price increase in Australia’s wholesale power prices, which are now more than five times last year’s average price. The ACT has been insulated from that, and I think many members know why.
MR DAVIS: Minister, can you explain how the ACT’s nation-leading renewable energy policies came to be?
MR RATTENBURY: This stems back to the decision by the ACT in 2010 to legislate a greenhouse gas reduction target. This was a matter in the parliamentary agreement from 2008. The Assembly conducted an inquiry, and we agreed to adopt a 40 per cent emissions reduction target. That necessitated finding the policies that would deliver an outcome which saw us move to take a series of large-scale reverse auction contracts, which not only delivered 100 per cent renewable electricity for the ACT but—at a time when the federal government, under Prime Minister Abbott, was actively undermining the renewables sector—it actually propped up the renewables sector in this country. It maintained jobs, it created an investment path and it meant that the industry was able to keep developing in Australia so that they could accelerate in the ways that they have, where wind and solar are the cheapest new forms of electricity development in this country.
Those contracts have stood the ACT in very good stead. Members will recall that back then, way back in 2012-13, the government estimated the price impact that this would have for the ACT. That has proved to be the case. The modelling has stood up very well against time. Of course, this week we have seen that those contracts were the difference. They are doing a very effective job, in this context of extremely high wholesale prices, of insulating ACT consumers and ensuring that this year electricity prices will not be a cost pressure for people living in the ACT. Our bills, on average, will be at least $800 cheaper than for people living in New South Wales.
MS CLAY: Minister, how is the ACT government helping Canberra households and businesses to reduce their costs from fossil fuel and electricity?
MR RATTENBURY: This is certainly something that people have had in mind, because electricity is a really important cost component of people’s budgets, be it a household or a small business. Aside from the insulation that our contracts are providing this year, the ACT government has a range of programs to help both households and businesses to invest in energy efficiency. That can be through upgrading to more modern energy-efficient electric devices or transitioning from gas to electricity.