Page 3715 - Week 10 - Thursday, 14 September 2017

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These provisions will have effect from today, the date of introduction of this bill, as there is a small risk that an FiT entitlement holder may seek to surrender its entitlement before the amendment bill is passed. This is a precautionary measure. This will ensure that all surrenders will be treated equally and operate under the new regulation that prescribes matters the minister must consider when fixing the day and time that the surrender of a feed-in tariff entitlement takes effect. The provisions relating to possible surrender in this bill are reasonable and justified, and I refer members to the detailed discussion in the explanatory statement.

A vital part of the large feed-in tariff scheme is the administration of its feed-in tariff support payments. Section 18 of the act made the ACT electricity distributor, currently ActewAGL Distribution, responsible for paying the support payments. The cost of the support payments is passed on to the territory’s electricity consumers via the network charge that the electricity distributor levies for the use of its local network.

The government’s original estimates were that these payments would cost an ACT household with average electricity consumption $5.50 per week, or less, in 2020. The actual cost of the payments is currently on track to fall well within this amount. The $5.50 per week amount is also well within a $12.67 per week amount that ACT households said they were prepared to contribute, on average, in polling that the government undertook in 2016. So it is clear that the government is taking the community with it on the journey to 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Such transparency is especially important in light of the large wholesale electricity price movements we have seen in recent months. The government expects that this will flow through to savings in the FiT costs that are passed through to ACT electricity consumers. However, greater oversight will ensure that the savings are passed on in full.

Continuing community support for the scheme will benefit from ongoing thorough and transparent oversight of scheme costs. To date, this oversight has consisted of regular meetings with ActewAGL Distribution about its forecast support payments as well as the publication on the website of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate of quarterly feed-in tariff payment summaries provided by the electricity distributor.

The amendments will require the ACT electricity distributor to formally apply to the minister for a reasonable estimate of its large feed-in tariff costs for each forthcoming financial year. Upon receipt of the application, the minister must make his or her own determination of the reasonable cost of feed-in tariff support payments, based on the information supplied by the ACT electricity distributor. The determination will be made each year as a notifiable instrument. The determination of reasonable cost will be included in the annual network pricing application that the electricity distributor submits to the Australian Energy Regulator.

The amendments also allow the minister to require an audit of the information supplied by the electricity distributor and permit the electricity distributor to include the cost of administering the scheme in the cost it passes on. The mandate that the

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