The Truth about State Energy Efficiency Schemes

While Sideshow Bob has carried the headlines toward the federal schemes and taxes in recent days, the states have been quietly going about business in a manner that effects everyday consumers and deliver  energy savings and real emissions reductions.
So whilst the SA government honoured it’s commitment to deliver energy efficiency to households and, next year, to businesses through the REES, the NSW ESS scheme expands to include more residential activity and the ACT scheme moves to include business, the Victorian government quietly put up amendments to legislation to stop the VEET at the end of next year.
Independent reviews of the schemes have consistently found that they deliver savings in a low cost and broadly beneficial manner o not only the participant but to the economy.
And yet the Victorian governments Business Impact Assessment, strangely found that whilst there is a net benefit to Victoria from the scheme, this comes at a cost to the generators and non participants. Of course, both of these will be true to an extent as a reduced demand for power will effect the generators and, although there have been some 1.4 million activities in the scheme, there will still be some non participants. But even the non participants should be paying lower energy bills than they might due to the retailers paying lower prices for electricity. In fact both base rates and peak rates have been very low for quite some time thanks to reduced demand. If this saving hasn’t been passed through by the retailers, it’s hardly the fault of the scheme!
And yet it appears that this was enough to sway the minister enough to can it. Mind you the minister does come from the Latrobe valley and the energy adviser during the assessment used to work for GDF Suez, the big French company that owns a lot of the coal fired power generation.
An independent review of the governments assessment provides an insight into what looks like a very biased assessment by the government.
The assessment assumes that after the life of the energy efficiency products, long they may be, we will replace them with old technology and revert to wasting energy. The persistence of savings is important as we have moved to new technology – we don’t go back!
There is no value given to the support of an industry, jobs, investment in sourcing of new lines of products, education of trades in new technology and so on.
For those of us with an eye not just on the economics but on climate change it’s also interesting to note that the governments assessment doesn’t include any value at all for the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have reduced thanks to the energy efficiency activities.
You don’t have to be Al Gore to understand that reducing GHG pollution is a positive thing and the state schemes are significant contributors to this good news story.
So, well done to the other states and bad luck Victoria – maybe November will come around soon enough to change the government and save the Victorian scheme.
I for one hope so!
Bruce Easton
Bruce Easton