NEG final draft due next week, reliability mechanism may never be triggered

Source: RenewEconomy

The Energy Security Board says it hopes to release a draft final report of the National Energy Guarantee at the end of next week, likely triggering months of intense debate ahead of a critical meeting of energy ministers in August.

Clare Savage, the deputy chair of the ESB, told the Energy Networks Australia conference in Sydney that, all going as planned, the draft report would be ready for release.

The National Energy Guarantee is being pushed by the federal Coalition as a solution to Australia’s climate and energy policy problems, and a unique opportunity to align the two.

However, the proposal is mired in controversy, initially over the structure of the mechanisms that impose an emissions obligation and a reliability obligation, and over the lack of ambition in the federal government’s emissions reduction targets.

Concern over the reliability mechanisms has largely – but not completely – been allayed by a revised “high level” draft delivered to COAG energy ministers in April.

It is now being seen as a “light touch” obligation, given that Australia rarely suffers outages from a lack of supply, and no such shortfall is forecast over the coming 10 years.

Indeed, Savage described the reliability obligation as a “back-stop” regulation that may never be triggered.

Conservatives have expressed dismay that the NEG may not offer the type of lifeline and multi billion-dollar bailout for the coal industry the likes of which is being considered by the Trump administration in the US.

ESB chair Kerry Schott says there is no chance that any new coal-fired generation will be built, although energy minister Josh Frydneberg has tried to mollify conservative fears by saying that the NEG offers the best hope for coal.

However, the fate of coal is largely going to be decided by the emissions obligation, and that in turn will be decided by the extent of the government’s emission reduction targets.

Frydenberg has made it clear that the Coalition government will not increase its current target of a 26 per cent cut in electricity emissions by 2030, despite most analysis saying that target will be effectively met around 2020 because of the new wind and solar investment to acquit the renewable energy target.

By  on 6 June 2018

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