Emissions down, electricity prices up

MINISTER for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell confirmed yesterday that the ACT is on track to meeting targets of a 40 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide and 90 per cent renewable energy across the Territory by 2020, while his Opposition counterpart called the policy “dangerous and ideological”.

Simon Corbell

Simon Corbell

Mr Corbell said the latest report on the ambitious local response to climate change showed “significant progress” was made during the 2012-13 financial year.

“Rooftop solar already has the capacity to generate 40 megawatts, enough to power approximately 10,000 Canberra homes,” Mr Corbell said. “Combined with the 40 megawatts signed up through the solar auction process, solar generation within the Territory will rise to 5 per cent of electricity consumption.”

“The new energy efficiency improvement scheme has now reached nearly 10,000 homes, abating 78,444 tonnes of CO2 [emissions] and saving Canberra households money on their electricity bills.”

Nicole Lawder

Nicole Lawder

In response, Shadow Minister for the Environment Nicole Lawder pointed out that the same report states “electricity prices are forecast to increase by up to 16 percent to fund renewable energy investment and ensure our greenhouse gas abatement targets are met”, accusing Mr Corbell of ignoring “the fact that the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions targets will drive electricity prices up for struggling Canberrans”.

“It’s typical of Simon Corbell and this Labor government to promote the ideology of renewable energy targets without adequately informing Canberrans about the true costs of pursuing such policies,” Ms Lawder said.

“It’s unacceptable for Simon Corbell to only tell half the story. The Canberra Liberals will continue to fight to bring out the truth about the ACT Labor government’s dangerous and ideological policies.”

The report goes on to predict that “on the basis of current electricity prices, even with a 16 per cent increase, the ACT would maintain the lowest electricity prices in Australia”.

The ACT Government’s effort to become carbon neutral by 2020 is also on track, Mr Corbell addded, outlining serveral initiatives designed to cut government emissions in a cost-effective way.

“The Government has established a fund which provided $3.6 million in loans to ACT Government energy efficiency projects last year,” the minister explained. “The subsequent monetary savings are used to repay the loan and the repaid funds are then lent to other energy saving projects. This is a smart way of reducing emissions with minimum cost.

“Energy consumption in public schools has declined by 5.2 per cent and a trial project for personal computers in schools reduced electricity consumption by 56 per cent.

“The Land Development Agency is building energy efficiency requirements into new developments, and a trial of energy efficient lighting in Bonner is expected to reduce emissions by 50 per cent on standard lighting.

“The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate has upgraded its offices at Dame Pattie Menzies House to a 5.5 star accreditation and runs the ACTSmart programs to reduce energy and water use across government, business and residence.”

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