Page 4451 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017

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To date, the government has worked closely and effectively with ActewAGL Distribution each year when it determines the cost of FiT support payments that it will pass on in each forthcoming financial year. The amendment bill formalises this process by requiring the ACT electricity distributor to apply to the minister by 31 December each year for a reasonable cost of FiT support to be applied by it in the upcoming financial year. Once the application is received, the minister must make a determination of what exactly the reasonable cost should be within two months. The minister’s determination will become the maximum amount that the electricity distributor can pass on for FiT support payments.

The reasonable cost as determined by the minister will also include the ACT electricity distributor’s cost of administering the FiT support payment scheme, reflecting the additional requirements imposed by the act for it to effectively administer this important government policy. If the electricity distributor is dissatisfied with the minister’s reasonable cost determination, it can apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review. ACAT already handles a wide range of disparate matters. Its decision are reviewable by the Supreme Court and it has the ability to engage expert assistance and to appoint specialist assessors to assist it in specified cases. It is an appropriate body to undertaken such a review.

The amendment bill empowers the minister to require an audit of the FiT support payment cost information provided by the ACT electricity distributor in its annual applications and, if need be, also empowers the minister to determine a methodology to be applied by the ACT electricity distributor when estimating FiT support payment costs in an upcoming financial year. However, it is expected that the minister will use this audit power rarely, as a fallback after other options to resolve any matters have been explored.

In conclusion, the act has provided robust legislative underpinning for the ACT’s reverse auction allocations of feed-in tariff entitlements, which, in turn, are driving major reductions in the territory’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of this the territory can be very proud. As with any pioneering policy, it is important that governments reflect on new information and respond to new challenges as they emerge. In this regard the act needs updating with respect to the possible surrender of FiT entitlements and government oversight of the FiT support payments costs passed on by the ACT electricity distributor.

After rigorous consideration of all options, the government has developed the amendment bill that addresses the entitlement surrender risk by providing more clarity regarding the time required to secure alternative renewable electricity supplies. The amendment bill also addresses the FiT support payment cost issue by requiring the electricity distributor to make an annual application for the reasonable cost of its FiT support payments that will cap the amount it can pass on for them to ACT electricity consumers via electricity retailers. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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