Page 3714 - Week 10 - Thursday, 14 September 2017

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The changes to the act address these two issues. First, it creates a new regulation that specifies matters the minister must consider when confirming the date on which a requested feed-in tariff entitlement takes effect. Second, it requires the electricity distributor to apply, each year, for a determination of reasonable feed-in tariff support payment costs which will set the maximum annual amount it can pass on to ACT electricity retailers for large feed-in tariff costs.

I am pleased to present the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Amendment Bill, which contains these changes. The amendment bill will update the act and will reinforce the ACT government’s responsible management of the nation-leading renewable energy reverse auction scheme.

When the act was passed, the ACT government was ploughing fresh ground. No state or territory had used feed-in tariff reverse auctions before in Australia and the government was keen to ensure that the renewable energy industry had confidence in the novel process. Confidence building measures included creating an independent auction advisory panel that would advise the minister on winning projects in each auction and the insertion of section 14 into the act, which says that the holder of a feed-in tariff entitlement may surrender the entitlement by giving written notice to the minister. The section also says that, upon receipt of the surrender notice, the minister must confirm the surrender by written notice to the feed-in tariff entitlement holder and that the surrender takes effect on the day and the time stated in the minister’s written notice.

The aim of the surrender section was to give feed-in tariff supported generators choice. It signalled that the ACT government was willing to provide income certainty to the generator through its 20-year feed-in tariff support payments but that the arrangement could be reviewed if, because of unforeseen circumstances, maintaining the feed-in tariff was not desirable for both parties.

The amendment bill retains the generator’s freedom of choice with respect to the potential surrender of feed-in tariff entitlements. However, if the generator does give notice of a surrender, a new regulation made under the act that is part of the amendment bill requires the minister to consider various matters when issuing an entitlement surrender notice. These matters include how long it would take the territory to obtain another, equivalent source of renewable electricity. This means the minister must consider what period of time it would take the government to secure replacement renewable electricity either through conducting another auction, through a direct grant of a feed-in tariff entitlement or, potentially, through a purchase of renewable energy certificates on the open market.

The new regulation is designed to preserve the integrity of the ACT’s 100 per cent by 2020 renewable electricity target. It will ensure that we are not caught short by a feed-in tariff entitlement surrender. Having done the hard yards required to source around 2.3 million megawatt hours per year of clean, renewable electricity, the government wants to preserve the integrity of the renewable electricity target, which, in turn, will preserve the integrity of the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction it delivers.

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