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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 August 2015) . . Page.. 2205 ..

The act imposes an energy savings target for the total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by retailers expressed as a percentage of total electricity sales in the ACT. The key requirement of the act was to review the scheme in its second year of operation, and I was pleased to see that the targets for priority households were being met across the activities.

This bill proposes several amendments to the act, including extending the operation of the energy efficiency improvement scheme to 2020, requiring additional notice to be given when increasing a future energy saving target or emissions multiplier, providing a mechanism for the administrator to register approved abatement providers who are eligible to undertake EEIS activities in the ACT and create abatement that may be purchased by a retailer to meet an energy savings target, providing a mechanism for the administrator to recognise abatement created in the ACT under recognised activities in other jurisdictional schemes, enabling the administrator to develop codes in relation to the eligibility of approved abatement providers and in relation to the acquisition of approved abatement factors, enabling the existing requirements on retailers or their contractors undertaking activities under the EEIS to be extended to approved abatement providers, enabling the shortfall penalty rate for a retailer not meeting their abatement target to be set by disallowable instrument, and providing greater clarity regarding when an electricity retailer transitions from a tier 2 to a tier 1 retailer.

As I have mentioned, we are pleased that by extending the operation of the EEIS the bill will increase opportunities for low income households in the ACT to reduce their energy usage and costs. Under the act a low income or priority household includes residential premises where the resident receives any of the following: an ACT government energy concession, a commonwealth pensioner concession card or healthcare card, a Department of Veterans’ Affairs pensioner concession card, TPI gold repatriation healthcare card or widows repatriation healthcare card or gold repatriation healthcare card or is within a class of people prescribed by the relevant regulations.

Under the current Labor-Greens government, rates and fees have been increasing for ACT households. Increasing opportunities for low income households in the ACT to reduce energy costs as well as usage is a good thing and is welcomed by the Canberra Liberals. But this is a cost of living bill and, unfortunately for most Canberrans, it seems more likely to push up their cost of living rather than bring it down. According to the environment directorate’s website, which I looked at today, the government is proposing a priority household target of 20 per cent. This may mean that 80 per cent of efficiency improvements could go elsewhere. In a worst case scenario, 20 per cent of low income priority households may benefit from the scheme but the remaining 80 per cent possibly goes to big businesses.

Regular households in this scenario stand to receive little or no benefit at all. This means that most Canberra families will receive no benefit under this scheme; they will only see increased costs. Worse still, these increased costs will be used to subsidise big business, large corporations or even perhaps government departments’ electricity bills.

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