Energy White Paper
8 April 2015
Federal Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane today released the Energy White Paper setting out an integrated national energy policy that seeks to increase competition, productivity and investment in energy. The Government will continue progressing energy market and network tariff reforms through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council to increase competition. It will also develop a National Energy Productivity Plan which will aim to increase Australia’s energy productivity by up to 40 per cent by 2030.
The Energy White Paper supports voluntary smart metering services, rejects the need for national interventions such as gas reservation, encourages privatisation of electricity assets, and maintains a technology-neutral policy setting for future energy sources. In relation to renewable energy, the White Paper notes the Government’s stance on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) as an important tool to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity demand in 2020 comes from renewable sources.
Minister Macfarlane also announced that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will conduct an inquiry into whether there is adequate competition in the wholesale gas market, with particular reference to upstream gas. Minister Macfarlane advised that ACCC Chairman Rod Sims is currently working on the scope of this inquiry and further details will be released next week.
The Energy White Paper sets out some key priorities for continued reform, including the:
- Implementation of priority energy market reforms agreed by the COAG Energy Council
- Rollout of cost-reflective tariffs to reduce cross-subsidies between consumers and drive better uptake of enabling technologies (particularly advanced metering) that allow consumers to respond to price signals
- Further development of market frameworks to encourage innovative products and services that give consumers more choice in managing bills and support greater competition
- Privatisation of state-owned electricity assets to increase productivity and competition
- Further development of the national wholesale gas market to increase the liquidity and transparency of gas trading, and increase pipeline access
- Better regulation and facilitation of the responsible development of unconventional gas resources
- Assessment of whether there is adequate competition in the wholesale gas market
- Provision of reliable and competitively priced liquid fuel supply
- Development of a National Energy Productivity Plan that provides action in cooperation with the states and territories and industry, covering the built environment, equipment and appliances, and vehicles