State deals to drive down power prices

The Morrison government has offered to do individual deals with each state in a bid to further drive down power prices and ensure electricity reliability.

The deals will involve the Commonwealth partnering on joint projects and each state addressing issues unique to them as well as examining emission reductions.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has described the move as a “third path”, having already begun dealing with “foundational problems” at a COAG level as well as “jurisdictional responsibilities”.


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“I have begun early discussions on what they will look like,” the minister told the UBS Australasia conference in Sydney on Monday.

“Each state is different and each deal will focus the particular challenges of that jurisdiction.”

He gives the example of Tasmania focusing on two key projects – Battery of the Nation and Marinus Link.

“I will only do deals with states that are collaborative and bring something to the table.”

Australia’s energy ministers are scheduled to meet in Perth on Friday.

Mr Taylor is most critical of Victoria’s Labor state government because drilling for gas is banned in the state for environmental reasons.

He says 2019 was the year of “turning the tide on price” as well as being the year of “reliability”.

“2020 will be the year that locks those two items into the energy sector for the next decade and established a market that will carry us through to 2030.

“We must get this right – we must avoid grand schemes and giant leaps and we must work collaboratively on the price and reliability challenges that impact the everyday lives of all Australians.”

In a veiled swipe at former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s national energy guarantee, or NEG, Mr Taylor says: “People wanted an acronym, they wanted a promise of salvation and they wanted it to be one policy.”

However, as minister he had discovered reforming the energy system was “massively complex”.

On prices, Mr Taylor said the cost of power had fallen for three consecutive quarters, according to official CPI figures, and recent data had shown price falls for gas.

“The futures prices are promising with Q4 2021 prices well within our price target up to $20 MWh cheaper than Q4 2020.”

But Labor frontbencher Penny Wong says wholesale power prices have risen under the government, while investors lack certainty.

“It would be good if he came up with a plan, wouldn’t it,” she told reporters in Adelaide.

“Because every day there’s just another idea, another thought bubble.”

© AAP 2019

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