Page 2208 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 August 2015

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The bill changes the term “emissions factor” to “emissions multiplier”, removing from the act the term “emissions factor”, which means that CO2 equivalent of associated activities at a particular point with the supply of electricity or gas is replaces by the term “emissions multiplier” which is the term under the act for determining a retailer’s obligation of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This term is changed throughout the act where it occurs.

The bill also extends the definition of “eligible activities” to “activities that are undertaken under an approved energy efficiency scheme in an interstate scheme” and outlines the conditions under which an interstate scheme can be approved by the minister, which include that the scheme would complement, not detract from, the achievement of the scheme and that the compliance with the scheme is monitored and enforced.

There are also some changes to the low income household target. Interestingly it appears that the retailers were overshooting the target so as to avoid any penalties associated with not meeting the target and were hitting about 30 per cent instead of the 25 per cent that was legislated until 2015. Now the government is proposing to reduce the target to 20 per cent and one would assume that the retailers may still overshoot this target and that perhaps the reality of 25 per cent will still be delivered. In effect there will not be any significant policy impact for low income households but I am pleased that the target will not be any lower than is proposed. There are a number of other technical amendments consistent with the policy changes that have been outlined and I do not intend to speak to those.

I would like to make a few general observations about the scheme because one of the criticisms of the scheme is that the range of activities that have been implemented has been limited. So far four major activities have occurred: energy efficient light bulbs, door seals, standby power controllers and refrigerator removals. Customer feedback has been generally positive except in the area of standby power controllers where a high level of dissatisfaction was expressed, perhaps because people did not like using the devices.

Of course, the challenge of a scheme such as this is ensuring that the efficiencies that are estimated are actually delivered and if customers are not pleased with what has been installed they are unlikely to want to use those devices. Standby power controls are probably the least reliable in terms of the longevity of the savings. Once the other measures are installed they will continue to be used. SPC usage could be more variable if not utilised effectively or if users do not like it. So that is an area that will need to be monitored.

One of the items that clearly is missing on the list is insulation—ceiling insulation and wall insulation. I have had directorate officials explain that the gains to be made from insulation are not as big as one would imagine in the ACT but I would rather suspect the political fallout from the federal insulation scheme continues and there is a real caution about insulation from a technical perspective and from a safety perspective. And that is a real shame. One would think that there is a cautious way in which we could include home insulation, an activity that has been undertaken safely over a long period.

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