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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 1049 ..

MS TUCKER (5.14): Yes, I would. I want to make a general comment on the reference and the amendments put by Ms Dundas. The Greens support this inquiry, because the promotion of renewable energy has long been a policy of the Greens. We initiated in the Assembly the setting of a greenhouse gas reduction target for the ACT, which the former Liberal government took up. The setting of targets for renewable energy use in the ACT would be a great contribution to achieving the overall greenhouse target.

Electricity use is the biggest contributor to the ACT's greenhouse gas emissions, at over 50 per cent, although these emissions are actually produced at the power stations in other parts of the country that supply the ACT. The ACT's greenhouse gas target acknowledges that and includes emissions produced elsewhere as a result of electricity consumption in the ACT.

There are few examples of renewable energy facilities in the ACT at present, so there is much potential to expand this capacity. There is the minihydro plant at Mount Stromlo, built by Actew, and investigations have begun for placing minihydro plants on the other dams. There are also landfill methane plants at the two tips, but they cannot be regarded as truly renewable forms of energy as they rely on people continuing to dump rubbish. Such plants can only be regarded as a transitional measure.

I have a few comments on the terms of reference that I hope the committee will take up. The committee does need to recognise that the introduction of renewable energy cannot be divorced from the need for more efficient energy use or demand management. Reducing the overall demand for energy would make any target easier to achieve. This is not about reducing our quality of life; it is about being smarter in how we use energy so that we do not waste it. The committee should also consider the potential of passive forms of solar energy collection; for example, passive solar building design and solar hot water heaters. Heating is a big issue in the ACT's climate, but we do not necessarily need high technology to tap the sun's energy for that.

In looking at the development of new generation facilities, the committee needs to consider who is going to build and own these facilities and who will pay for doing so within the deregulated national energy market that we now have. When you are thinking about the feasibility of renewable energy, you have to look at the economic and political climate in which you are working. It cannot be just about feasibility related to technology. Private or semi-private electricity companies are not going to invest in these facilities unless they are encouraged or forced to do so by government, or there is some economic incentive to do so.

Currently, Australia has a range of green power schemes, but they rely on the generosity of a limited number of environmentally aware people who are prepared to pay higher electricity charges. These schemes cannot be relied upon to achieve the large-scale adoption of renewable energy that this inquiry would be investigating, so the committee would need to think about other mechanisms. It would also have to deal with the framework of the policy of the Liberals and Democrats federally which, unfortunately, far from supports the provision of renewable energy. In fact, they have set that whole process back.

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