Queensland energy taskforce moves ahead of static feds

A QUEENSLAND energy taskforce has emerged despite the political posturing of last week’s COAG (Council of Australian Governments) meeting of energy ministers, with a list of actions to ensure state energy security in the 2017-18 summer and beyond.

The state joined Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in adopting an approach that is independent of national policy.

CLEAN ACTION: Queensland's energy taskforce is moving ahead despite disagreement on a clean energy target.

CLEAN ACTION: Queensland's energy taskforce is moving ahead despite disagreement on a clean energy target.

According to state energy minister Mark Bailey, the lack of federal policy leadership has undermined industry investment and led to an increase of electricity prices across the nation.

“This is clearly unacceptable,” he said.

“We know the National Electricity Market is broken – it’s not serving industry, consumers or governments – and it’s not designed for the energy market of 2017 and onwards.”

Mr Bailey said the first priority for the taskforce will be to develop summer preparedness plans for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

It will also adopt the recommendations of chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s independent review into the national electricity market and provide advice to the Palaszczuk government.

Feds unmoved 

A clean energy target was the only recommendation not adopted unanimously when the state energy ministers met their federal counterpart Josh Frydenberg in Brisbane on Friday.

Federal member for Wright Scott Buchholz echoed Mr Frydenberg’s caution about internal party discussions on the target.

“The minister has indicated that consideration of a clean energy target is still a long way down the track,” he said.

“I’ll continue to contribute in the party room and argue strongly for policies that ease pressure on energy prices and take the strain off local household budgets.”

Federal member for Forde Bert van Manen was also on message: “My only concern regarding a clean energy target is that we are able to reduce electricity prices for consumers and businesses,” he told the Times.

Clean costs in action

On the same day as the meeting of energy ministers, Queensland Police Service (QPS) was celebrating the significant cost savings brought by the recent installation of 139 solar panels at Jimboomba Police Station.

State member for Logan Linus Power said the move combined cost reduction and clean energy.

“These projects are looking to save QPS over a million dollars a year, and that’s money that could be better spent on front-line policing. 

“This is a win-win,” he said.

“We don’t need to be philosophical when we’re actually making hard savings.

“I’d love to get Josh Frydenberg here to show some of the good projects which are actually making budget savings.”

Secure supply

Other members of Queensland’s clean energy taskforce include Queensland’s chief scientist Professor Suzanne Miller, energy and water supply director-general Professor Paul Simshauser, and Queensland’s under treasurer Jim Murphy.

The state has allocated $8.4 million to support the work of the taskforce, ensuring secure supply when demand is highest, including preparation of a demand management and energy efficiency strategy, and detailed power system modelling to identify longer-term system requirements for Queensland.