New VRET commitment could put Victoria’s electricity reliability, affordability at risk

Victoria’s industrial strength has been built on innovation, skilled workers and cheap, reliable energy. However, the Andrews Government’s commitment to more renewables could put business at risk of higher costs and blackouts.

Today, the Andrews Government announced that if re-elected, it will commit to more renewables under the Victoria’s renewable energy target (VRET) with a target of 50% renewables by 2030.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Mark Stone AM said bringing on more low cost and reliable power, including renewables, is critical to Victoria’s prosperity but the interests of a handful of Greens voters in inner city electorates shouldn’t put business and jobs at risk.

“Premier Andrews needs to explain to business and workers how more renewables will benefit businesses that can’t survive without reliable and affordable energy, whether existing baseload generators will be forced to close and how so much intermittent power will be incorporated into the grid,” Mr Stone said.

Renewables can help to lower prices but may also force existing generators to close early, leading to price spikes. The closure of Hazelwood power station in 2017 led to large price increases and more renewables could force Yallourn power station to close. Without independent advice it is impossible to say whether electricity prices will come down as a result of this commitment.

Victorian business overwhelmingly back renewables and clean energy, however crowding in intermittent generation can impose a serious risk to energy reliability across the state.

“It’s time for the major parties to outline their vision for ensuring Victorian businesses and their 2.5 million workers have the energy they need to prosper,” said Mr Stone.

The Victorian Chamber is calling on the next State Government to drive the development of an integrated national energy policy that ensures reliable supplies of affordable and clean electricity and gas.

Victoria also needs to end the ban on onshore conventional gas exploration to ensure Victorian businesses and households have enough affordable gas.

“Locking up Victoria’s gas resources while proven and reliable technologies, that do not involve fracking are available, is not in anyone’s interests,” said Mr Stone.

Energy security, reliability and affordability is a key priority for Victorian business and part of the Victorian Chamber’s 2018 State Election campaign, Stronger Business, Stronger Victoria.

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