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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 October 2010) . . Page.. 4870 ..

MR CORBELL: The government has outlined what the potential cost to households will be as a result of this expansion of its feed-in tariff scheme. We have already made that information publicly available. The existing scheme for micro-generation, which provides for a maximum of 15 megawatts of installed capacity and the expansion of that scheme to medium-scale generation which provides a further 15 megawatts of generation capacity, is already accounted for in the existing price path built into electricity bills and determined by the Australian energy regulator.

The cost of that existing scheme last year amounted to $10 per household for the full year. Under the expanded scheme, we anticipate that this will rise to no more than $50 per household per year. So to counter any impact that this will have on low income earners, the government has focused very strongly on protecting low income earners.

We have already significantly expanded the existing energy concession payments. We have also for the first time indexed that to the relevant price index to ensure that those households continue to receive payments that keep the value of that concession in price in line with the relevant price movements.

The government is moving to protect low income households. It is what we need to do now for energy generated from coal-fire generation. It is very important to make the point that low income earners always suffer the burden of any increase in utility prices, whether that increase occurs—

Mr Hanson: Everybody suffers it.

MR CORBELL: Disproportionally, Mr Speaker—whether or not that occurs as a result of investment in existing fossil fuel powered electricity generation or whether that occurs as a result of renewable energy generation.

It is not the case that one is no cost and the other is an unfair cost. The fact is that both have costs. The costs of fossil fuel powered generation, of upgrading existing fossil fuel powered generation, of upgrading existing electrical distribution infrastructure to channel that fossil fuel powered electricity generation also have a disproportionate impact on low income earners. That is why we have a concession regime.

This government believes that we must make the transition towards renewable energy generation but in doing so we should protect low income earners, and that is exactly what this Labor government is doing.

MR COE: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Minister, what policies have you implemented as Minister for Energy that have put downward pressure on energy prices for low and middle income earners?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Coe for the question. There are a range of measures that the government has put in place to assist low income earners with their energy costs.

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