Page 5532 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased today to table the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Bill. This bill provides for a scheme for the territory community to support the development of up to 210 megawatts of large-scale renewable energy generation projects and to commence our transition to a carbon neutral economy.

The Assembly will recall that in September last year Minister Corbell announced the expansion of the feed-in tariff scheme. The expansion provided for the introduction of a new medium category of renewable energy generator, for installed capacity caps of 15 megawatts for each of the micro and medium categories, and the development of a scheme that would ultimately deliver a further 210 megawatts of large-scale renewable generation. This bill delivers on that undertaking, establishing a landmark new scheme. This scheme is the first of its kind in Australia.

In developing the scheme, the government has drawn on international best practice. It is consistent with national energy market frameworks and presents significant innovations that reflect the desire of the government to pursue large-scale renewable energy generation in a way that ultimately delivers the greatest value for money for the ACT community.

There is no escaping the fact that the way we use energy and the way we generate electricity need to change. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence tells us that the world’s atmosphere is warming and this is driven in large part by our burning of fossil fuels. Our region is not immune to these changes, and we will, as a community, face higher temperatures, reduced rainfall and more frequent extreme and damaging weather events, including days of extreme fire danger. This challenge for our own community is at once challenging but yet also surmountable.

On one hand, Canberra is the most carbon intensive city in Australia. On the other hand, we are a relatively affluent, educated and caring community. Our capacity as a community to address this challenge is reflected in Canberrans already being Australia’s largest consumers of renewable energy, through the national green power scheme, as well as the community’s embracement of our ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Weathering the change draft action plan 2 establishes a process to further engage the community on specific measures to achieve our targets, with renewable energy being an important dimension.

As previously mentioned, the legislation seeks to work within the confines of the national energy market law but it also reflects the commerciality of the solar industry. In our interactions with them, the industry have told us they require a long-term feed-in tariff support arrangement rather than up-front capital grant funding. The scheme delivers this through a distributor-funded feed-in tariff, similar in operation to those already in place for smaller scale systems.

Rather than offering a fixed price, however, the legislation provides a facility for developers to compete for the right for a feed-in tariff. This competitive tension will

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