Page 4454 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017

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Ms Lee’s proposed amendment prohibits the ACT electricity distributor from passing costs in excess of the reasonable costs determination. On the face of it, that is fine. But the wording in the original bill already prohibits this. Ms Lee’s revised wording also does not explicitly permit the ACT electricity distributor to pass on the costs of meeting its obligations under the act, as the original bill permits. This is problematic as it does not provide the certainty that the distributor requires to properly operate the scheme.

On the issue of costs, I should note that consumers are currently paying $2.19 per week for the scheme to deliver 100 per cent electricity from renewable sources. This is something we know the ACT population does support. In 2016 the ACT government commissioned a survey on climate change and energy efficiency. It asked Canberrans how much they would be willing to pay to assist the government to reduce carbon emissions and invest in new infrastructure and technologies. The average daily dollar value response was $19 per week while the average yearly dollar value response was $12.67 per week.

If you support that framework whereby some amount of costs is passed through to the community, it is important to be clear and explicit in the wording of the legislation. If you do not support the ability to pass through costs, then there are no 100 per cent renewable and we would need a completely different framework, and the current achievements would be jeopardised.

If we do continue with the system that allows the passing through of reasonable costs, which is currently permitted through the Australian electricity rules, we want that system to be clear and we want it to be consistent. The amendments we are making in this bill are actually an extra layer of oversight to ensure that the distributor does not pass through unreasonable costs.

Already the Australian Energy Regulator reviews costs that are passed through. But the change in this bill will also let the minister make a determination of feed-in tariff administration costs that the distributor may pass on and require an audit of information that the distributor provides to this process.

In conclusion, I understand the point that Ms Lee is making with this amendment. Of course, I support the notion that consumers should not incur unreasonable costs. That is an explicit goal of both the original legislation and this bill. But it is important to be clear in the scheme and avoid uncertainty or we might jeopardise its efficient operation. On the basis of my advice and my understanding that this would introduce a degree of uncertainty into the legislation, the government will not be supporting the proposed amendment.

Question put:

That the amendments be agreed to.

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