The Clean Energy Council has called the next federal government to reform the National Electricity Market (NEM).
In a statement on its website, Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton warned that without federal government intervention, each state and territory could build separate decarbonised infrastructure as Australia transitions away from coal, resulting in a lack of cohesion at a national level.
Currently, regions of Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia are part of the NEM.
“While this will support decarbonisation and create local economic benefits,” the chief executive said, “we will lose out on some of the key benefits the NEM was designed to deliver. This scenario is basically unavoidable at present due to the absence of a federal plan, so one of the key tasks for the next Federal Government will be to provide the guidance and leadership needed to maintain a national approach to the electricity market.”
Thornton emphasised the necessity for strong leadership as the country should switch from a reliance on coal to renewable and sustainable energy.
“An orderly transition is about ensuring enough renewable energy capacity has been built and connected to the grid, well before Australia’s ageing and unreliable coal-fired power generation fleet fails or is decommissioned because it has become too expensive to run.
“A just-in-time approach to replacing this ageing coal capacity contributes to higher electricity prices for consumers – as we are already seeing – and potentially even has reliability impacts,” Thornton said.
The organisation called for the establishment of an authority to assist in the transition away from coal with $1 billion in funding, from its Federal Election Policy Recommendations.
Reskilling and training of the 10,000 people in Australia employed by coal should be a priority, Clean Energy Council noted, as coal power plant outages have led to an increase in energy prices.