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Energy Legislation Amendment (Feed-in Tariffs and Improving Safety and Markets) Bill 2016

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
1 December 2016

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — In a submission to the Essential Services Commission's inquiry Professor Alan Pears said that in the present electricity market, due to the monopoly power of network operators, the role of distributed energy systems is distorted. I ask: in responding to the Essential Services Commission report, did the government consider introducing a system which would likely lead to a feed-in tariff that closely resembles the actual retail price of electricity, or a price that closely resembles the retail price minus the marginal cost of network use for household generators, given that this price would more adequately deal with the undervaluing and distortion of the role of distributed generation in our energy system?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I think it is important for us to understand that the market is different when we talk about distribution businesses, when we talk about the retail arm of the market and when we talk about the supply and generation side of the market. We know that the supply side of the market — in terms of generation — and the retail arm are very much deregulated. The term 'deregulated' relates to opportunities for new entrants to come in and go out of the market. When it comes to distribution businesses and indeed transmission businesses, they are heavily regulated and they are monopoly businesses. Certainly there is myriad regulation around how those distribution businesses can work in terms of charges to consumers and how they can go about augmenting the network and making other adjustments to ensure that the network works as it should. Comparing one element of the market with another is really comparing apples with pears. That is what I would say.

In terms of having a feed-in tariff that more closely resembles the retail price of power that is purchased by a normal consumer — all of us sitting here and in businesses out there — through their retail bills, I think it is important for us to understand that when we look at the market we have got a component of a bill that is made up of the cost of actually generating the power. Then there is a component of the bill that goes to the transmission business to actually carry that power to the distribution point. Then there is another component of bill that goes to the distribution business that takes the electricity from transmission through to the poles and wires and down the streets where people live or where they do their business. Obviously those two middle components are heavily regulated — they are fairly much monopoly agents. Then you have got the retail arm, which is, as I said, very deregulated.

It is important for us to remember and reflect on the fact that when someone gets their bill it reflects every single component of the chain of that electricity being generated and eventually making its way to the home. There are a number of different values and costs, if you like, that have to be acquitted. Therefore that is not easily or fairly translated into what a feed-in tariff might look like in terms of excess energy that is fed back into the grid. We know that what people pay in their retail bills is not the same value as it costs to actually generate that electricity, because we know that that retail bill is made up of generation, transmission, distribution and ultimately retail.

To pay anything that resembles a retail price that people pay now for electricity, which they might get from the valley, from Tasmania or from somewhere else, is not really comparing apples with apples. In effect, to pay a feed-in tariff which is the same value as what you would pay normally through the retail bill for electricity that you get from other means, you would actually be looking at a fairly significant cross-subsidy. The value of the feed-in tariff is about what it actually costs to get the same energy delivered through a wholesale market. That is why when we made an election commitment for the Essential Services Commission to undertake a review of what a fair tariff ought to be, that fair tariff was basically to do with avoiding cross-subsidies, because that would not really be a fair way of compensating people who in fact feed excess electricity back into the grid.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — Currently, in determining the fair and efficient value for small-scale embedded generation exports, the ESC uses the 'wholesale price plus' approach, which formulates the feed-in tariff through wholesale price value electricity in addition to the benefits embedded in generation provided by the network. Given the closure of Hazelwood is expected to increase the wholesale prices, have you undertaken modelling on how much this would increase the feed-in tariff using the current formula, and if so, what would you expect the new price to be — within a range?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — We have been very clear in what this bill responds to. It responds to a report that was prepared by the Essential Services Commission. Let us be very clear about who sets the rates when it comes to feed-in tariffs for excess energy fed back into the grid. The Essential Services Commission has the role of determining year to year what the value of that feed-in tariff is and what those rates are. It is not the government that determines that; it is the Essential Services Commission.

This bill changes the legislation to enable the Essential Services Commission to take into account certain values, including the social and health benefits of feeding renewable energy into the grid. It also includes of course avoided greenhouse gas emissions that would have been emitted otherwise. It also introduces feed-in tariffs depending on the time of day when a person is actually feeding excess electricity back into the grid. The bill also looks at changing the date when new tariffs are determined and engaged, if you like, from a calendar year to a financial year. This better aligns with tariffs that are struck by the industry in general. That is what the bill does.

The actual tariffs that will be determined will be a matter for the Essential Services Commission. I will be looking at an order in council that will provide the methodologies for the Essential Services Commission to consider as guidelines and use to determine what those rates will be. There will certainly be full consultation about what that order in council will look like.

Mr McGUIRE (Broadmeadows) — Can the minister explain the need to amend the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007 in relation to commonwealth agencies and also the need for the minister to be able to fix fees for the purposes of regulations under the act?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — The Victorian energy efficiency target scheme is obviously an important scheme. It is a scheme that supports 2000 Victorian jobs, and it is one that our government saved when we were elected. It was meant for the dust heap, and 2000 jobs were going to be lost. What this clause talks about and seeks to do is going to be really important for businesses. We know that businesses can save a lot more on their energy bills. This clause establishes a framework that will allow the Essential Services Commission to establish the value of project-based assessments. Of course those, once they are determined by the Essential Services Commission, will help businesses save on their power bills.

Ms STALEY (Ripon) — The minister has just said that the tariffs will continue to be set by the ESC. My question is: what weighting will the ESC give to the new requirement to add in avoided costs and the other set of inputs that go into determining the rate?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — As I said earlier, the government is currently considering methodologies for an order in council. They will be guidance, if you like, for the Essential Services Commission to then determine what they believe should be the tariffs. There will be consultation happening, so I am not going to illuminate that point yet. But certainly there will be opportunity for broad consultation around that in the coming period of time.

Ms STALEY (Ripon) — Thank you for your answer, Minister. My understanding, however, particularly in relation to these new avoided costs, is that if the Governor in Council specifies a methodology, the ESC has to use that methodology. That will therefore create a mechanism for the government to set the rates from the ESC. So my question is in relation to the timing of the introduction of this new methodology.

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — The timing of course is important, because it is important that businesses, retail businesses in particular, have plenty of opportunity to prepare themselves in terms of their billing arrangements. We know that retailers periodically review their billing arrangements and their own tariffs. My understanding is that the Essential Services Commission will need to have determined what the feed-in tariff rates ought to be by 28 February. That will provide sufficient opportunity for the energy retailers to be able to prepare their billing arrangements for the commencement of new tariff arrangements from 1 July next year.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I am interested to know whether any analysis has been done of how many Victorians, once these changes come into effect, are estimated to be on a lower feed-in tariff rate than they currently are, how much worse off they will be and who, in terms of demographics and geographic location, will be worse off.

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — My understanding and my advice is that there are about 70 000 people currently on the standard feed-in tariff and the transitional feed-in tariff schemes. I advise the chamber that both those schemes were closed to new entrants under the previous government, so they are closed groups. Our scheme, which will commence on 1 July with the passing of this bill, will ensure they get an increased benefit from our scheme, in terms of the additions, if you like, above what they would otherwise have received under the previous government's changes to the feed-in tariff arrangements they made while in government.

Mr T. SMITH (Kew) — Minister, have you identified the social cost of higher power prices for non-solar customers?

Ms D'Ambrosio — Is the question about the social cost?

Mr T. SMITH — The social cost of higher power prices for non-solar customers.

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — Well, I am not sure how you define a social cost, but what we have been very clear about, as an election commitment, is that we would look to establish what a fair feed-in tariff is, one that would not pose a cross-subsidy to consumers but in fact reward them for the energy they actually feed back into the grid. What is important of course is that there is a network value for electricity that is generated through renewable energy.

The Essential Services Commission is halfway through the work of determining other values to the network, which of course are shared right across the state. Whether people have solar energy or not, there is downward pressure on prices when you have more generation than what is generated from rooftop solar panels. There is a network value to that.

We know that through the arrangements in this bill, with the introduction of a critical peak tariff period, there is an opportunity during critical peak times of the year — just a handful of hours during a particular time of the year when the market is very constrained and supply is very much constrained — when the actual spot price of energy escalates dramatically. By providing a critical peak tariff arrangement and by encouraging and incentivising people to actually add electricity into the grid at those particular times provide value to all consumers in the energy market.

Mr T. SMITH (Kew) — Just following on from that, what monetary value does the government put on carbon?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — We have been very clear. You asked about the value of carbon. What our objective was and what our commitment was — and this is what part of this bill is about — was that we would seek the Essential Services Commission to ascertain the fair value of electricity generated from renewable energy fed back into the grid. We asked the Essential Services Commission to take into account the social and health benefits of feeding renewable energy back into the grid, including of course avoided greenhouse gas emissions. We have been very clear that increasing greenhouse gas emissions have significant health and social impacts. We only have to look at the terrible mine fire at Hazelwood that happened not that long ago to know that with increased greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere there are actually very deleterious health and social impacts on communities.

Clause agreed to; clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.

Clause 5

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — As the minister already outlined, the bill intends to implement the recommendations in the ESC's report. This report says that of all the environmental and social benefits of a feed-in tariff, the only one they are really able to take into account is the avoided greenhouse gas emissions, as it is the only one they are able to assign a financial value to. They also said that what value to assign to carbon is a matter for the government, not the commission. The minister said that the government will develop a methodology to calculate this value. Could she expand on this, given the ESC's comments about the difficulty of assigning financial value to social and human health costs associated with carbon, and in particular could she let the chamber know whether the costs of carbon to our environment, as opposed to the social or human health impacts, will be priced as well as the social and human health impacts?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — We have been very clear, and the bill makes it absolutely clear what our intention is, which is that the function of the bill when it comes to feed-in tariffs is for us to provide a framework for the Essential Services Commission to use to take into account the social and health benefits. That is quite clear in the bill — the social and health benefits of feeding renewable energy into the grid. This is not about people's own consumption of the energy they generate for their own purposes. This is about excess energy that is fed back into the grid. This is something for the Essential Services Commission to take into account when determining the feed-in tariffs.

This is obviously an improvement on what happened under the previous government, which removed any consideration of those factors. We were left with a situation where all the Essential Services Commission could take into account was effectively the wholesale cost of the electricity that was fed back into the grid from renewable energy sources. We are very clear about that and it is there for all to see. That of course includes the deaths, so that is important for us to consider.

The feed-in tariffs will also allow the Essential Services Commission to consider what the feed-in tariffs ought to look like depending on the time of day. The Essential Services Commission did make some commentary around some references to how they could potentially look at how these values could be formulated. Obviously we are considering those, and once we have the draft order in council out there will be consultation and we will be able to have a full discussion, if you like, and commentary on the methodologies that will be presented as guidance to the Essential Services Commission in determining those matters.

We have been very clear about this. There is a value that currently people are not being rewarded for, and we want to make sure that they do get that reward, understanding of course that there is obviously an inherent value in producing clean energy as distinct from energy that is highly polluting and has significant emissions attached. There is a value to that. The Essential Services Commission did consider a number of options in their commentary, and I suppose we are being guided by that.

The Essential Services Commission also did indicate what the actual tariffs might potentially look like and how they may be constructed, and they presented some scenarios. I think they are a fair reflection of what fair value ought to look like. So we are very keen to keep working on this, and we will do that and we will ensure that there will be ample opportunity for further consultation around those methodologies.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — On clause 5(4)(c), given that solar customers will be paying more — and this has been confirmed by power retailers and I believe in comments made by the minister and reported in the Herald Sun — has the minister identified the costs to non-solar customers by increasing the feed-in tariff, and what would the minister expect those to be?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I do reject some of those comments; I am just not sure what facts they are based on. But I will leave that there and go to the rest of the issues. We have been very clear, and the Essential Services Commission have been very clear, that there is a value there. It is a value that is not quite based on cross-subsidies. There were some scenarios that were considered. So typically, if you consider the recommendations of the Essential Services Commission, there are actually some savings there for those who have solar panels and feed the excess electricity back into the grid. Certainly there are negligible costs in terms of pass-through, as a general rule. There is a network value to this.

As I said — and I caution people when they make comments and throw around exaggerated figures of costs or pretend to know what these are — ultimately there are two components of the review that the Essential Services Commission are doing. They are now working on the network value of distributed generation and excess energy fed back into the grid. I look forward to the conclusions of that work by the Essential Services Commission. I would encourage anybody who has an informed view about what that ought to look like to actually take the full opportunity that has been afforded to every single citizen right across the state and beyond and contribute to this review. I am very confident that really people are getting what they deserve in terms of the value of the energy they produce and put back into the grid. There is more of that work that is continuing.

This is really part of a transformation that is occurring in our energy market. We know more and more people want to be able to produce their own electricity — they want to produce clean electricity, affordable electricity. Frankly, I know that the decision of the government to in the first instance have this review has been broadly supported and welcomed. People want renewable energy and they want to also have a fair value attached to the electricity they feed back into the grid, which ultimately has a broad community benefit right across our state. Whether you have solar power or you do not have solar power, there is a significant benefit there for everyone to enjoy — and it will continue to grow.

I will say to the member that many in industry have welcomed our government's commitment. The Clean Energy Council has given some very strong indications of support. It has said that our position will actually help to incentivise or encourage other technologies that are there waiting to be used, that it will help to transform our energy markets and really give power back to people in terms of producing clean energy and having control over their energy bills. We know that when you have more renewable energy you actually get a decrease in costs. This is important. The Clean Energy Council is saying that. Solar Citizens — that I would suggest the member for Caulfield is a member of — have welcomed the government's initiative. I quote:

This is a first for Australia and … the Victorian government was leading the world with this announcement to better value the benefits of rooftop solar, also known as distributed renewable energy …

That was Reece Turner, a consumer campaigner with Solar Citizens.

So we are doing the right thing because the broad community in Victoria support renewable energy, they support their own renewable energy and they know that there is a benefit for the whole community when we have more renewable energy and less carbon-intensive generation in our environment. That is the fact, and we are very proud to produce this bill and to produce a fair feed-in tariff for consumers.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — As a follow-up to the last question, with respect to the answer that the minister has just given and to the accuracy of that answer, I point the minister to comments that were reported in the Herald Sun on 26 October under the heading 'Victorian government to boost solar energy tariffs from July 2017', in which the government was quoted as follows:

The government estimates the system will cost non-solar households about $2.50 each annually.

The minister said a minute ago that there would be no cost to householders. Could she elaborate? I will ask the question again: given that solar customers will be paying more — and this was confirmed by power retailers and this article — has the minister identified the cost to non-solar customers of increasing the feed-in tariff, and if so, what will that amount be?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I think I did say that it was negligible, so they are the comments that we have made. We know that there is additional value for the broad population, and that is why the Essential Services Commission have yet to complete their work. We certainly look forward to them completing their work, because there is a broad value — for a whole range of reasons — to all of the community, and that needs to be determined. I invite the member to submit his views to the Essential Services Commission. It is an open inquiry, one that really is very important because it will help set us up for a transformation in our energy market.

For those people who want to refuse and be anti this, I think they will be the last ones standing, because frankly the world is moving on and people are moving on. They know that this is an important thing to help facilitate because it is good for everybody. If the member wants to talk about what is a negligible amount of cost, he can do that. He will continue to do that, I am sure — he does not need my encouragement — but the fact remains that this is an important improvement in our renewable energy tariff arrangements that provides a fair price at very, very minimal — negligible — cost to all consumers. Our government is about making it easier, not harder, for everybody to have renewable energy, unlike those opposite.

Ms STALEY (Ripon) — My question relates to clause 5(4)(c). Has there been a cost-benefit analysis undertaken of adding in the avoided social costs of carbon to the setting of feed-in tariffs?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — Our government is doing what we said we would do during the election campaign. We have been very clear about that and that is what we have committed to doing. It is all very transparent. We said we were going to ask the Essential Services Commission to determine what a fair price is for feed-in tariffs — excess energy fed back into the grid, so this is the net — and the commission have done a significant piece of work and their determinations are independent determinations.

Mr CARBINES (Ivanhoe) — Can the minister advise how clause 5, which amends sections of the Electricity Industry Act 2000, will assist Victoria to become a national leader in rewarding customers with solar panels, for example?

Honourable members interjecting.

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I think we are entitled to one out of six questions. The value of course is absolutely there. We know that governments have to show leadership on these matters and this government is showing leadership. Our inquiry was welcomed by the industry broadly to really nut out this question that was left unanswered under the previous government. The previous government was anti-renewable energy and the coalition continues to have that view now in opposition. It is the same mantra.

Honourable members interjecting.

Ms D'AMBROSIO — I have not heard you say one thing in support of renewable energy. You have got this magic mantle of shadow minister for renewables, but it beggars belief what that means.

Anyway, so what we have got is a clear agenda by our government to make it easier for people to adopt renewable energy and to support renewable energy, and that is making sure that we actually place the right value on renewable energy. This begins to do just that and, frankly, the benefits are not just for those who generate electricity for themselves and feed it back into the grid; it actually helps to create a whole new industry.

A number of new energy technologies lie there and are waiting for a government to say, 'Come in and do the job and let us actually help to transform ourselves to a clean energy future'. That is what the government is doing, and it is absolutely committed to that. There are billions of dollars of investment waiting to come into our state that will create thousands of jobs and ultimately give us a clean energy future, one that really does help to reinvigorate and give us the resilience that people deserve in our environment, for social reasons and for health reasons.

We can see that when we do nothing, we actually go backwards. When we stand still, we actually go backwards, and we can start to see that people now resoundingly support renewable energy. I am really proud that we have got a government and a whole range of caucus members that are absolutely committed to growing renewable energy, making it easier for families to be able to get access to the benefits of renewable energy and lower power bills. Ultimately that is what we are about, and we are getting on and doing just that.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! Before I call the next honourable member, I note it is the right of every member of this house to get the call for any consideration-in-detail stage or any other debate.

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — As the minister would know, battery storage is becoming cheaper and as it becomes cheaper more people are likely to install it and therefore disconnect from the grid, meaning the grid infrastructure will become even more expensive for those left on it. Therefore it does seem to make sense that solar owners are incentivised to stay on the grid, perhaps through a feed-in tariff. Does the government intend to account for the benefits of solar owners staying on the grid and the social costs if they disconnect from the grid through its methodology in asking the Essential Services Commission to set a tariff that would fairly represent the social costs if those people disconnect?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I think I have got more faith in the network than some others may. I know there are different views about this, but I do not think that there is going to be a rush of people wanting to disconnect from the grid. The grid is important. It will remain important. There will be a need for adjustments to be made by the businesses that manage the network, because you have got new technologies that are coming in and of course that means investment decisions need to change and evolve, absolutely. So for us it is about making sure that we maintain the benefits of what we have got as existing infrastructure, because there are terrific benefits in having a grid. I do not think anyone should deny that. It is very, very important and it will continue to be very important for many, many years to come.

It is about how new technologies are allowed into the existing network that allows us to better integrate more renewable energy at a very local level, whether it is at a household level, a community or business level or actually at a utility-scale level and what that means then for other technologies that need to sit alongside of that. I am very confident about this and I support the existing grid and the network needing to be more flexible to allow for those to come in, but all of that is possible. Yes, you will have some people who like the idea of going off-grid, but I think they are a very small number of people, frankly. The fact is that the grid will remain very, very important for many years to come. It will need to improve in terms of its flexibility to allow for those new technologies to come in, and that is why we are absolutely committed to doing that. That is why we have got a new energy technologies sector strategy, which was released in March, and that is why we have made some very significant announcements around large renewable energy and also assisting with small-scale renewable energy. There are a number of other announcements that we will be making in the not-too-distant future that talk about and help to build that picture of an integrated network, and they will take into account, I think, the ongoing importance of the grid.

Mr CRISP (Mildura) — Leading on from what the minister has just said around the distributed generation and network costs of maintaining the grid, small-scale generators are not contributing to that grid as such but a large-scale generator involving billions of dollars that are going to come in is required to pay expensive connection costs. Do you see a role for the Essential Services Commission in looking at grid costs within feed-in tariffs for small-scale generators as well as large-scale generators?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I think probably the short answer is no, but let us consider the fact that the Essential Services Commission is still doing an element of work that is about network value and I would imagine that in those considerations — and I think the Essential Services Commission has just released a discussion paper at least, some preliminary work — those types of issues get incorporated in that.

This is about what is fair, and when you are talking about getting fair outcomes, you need to fairly consider all externalities and all the issues that are pertinent to that particular issue. It is not about necessarily advantaging one particular technology over another; it really depends on what the purpose is that you want to achieve. What I would say is that the member talks about the large generators having to pay a particular cost in terms of connection fees, but I would say that even those consumers who have rooftop solar pay fees to be connected and ultimately many of them still heavily rely on electricity from the grid. I just think we need to be a little bit careful about overstating a case, but certainly I do not think it is as you have put it in terms of the issues not being totally considered and certainly not in the reviews that we have got the Essential Services Commission doing.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! Honourable members in the consideration-in-detail stage have the right to get up twice on a clause, but they then need to seek leave for a further time.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (By leave) — Minister, you referred to the fact that there will be minimal cost to non-solar householders as part of the new levy that is being administered. I understand that the Essential Services Commission will be implementing this, but it is a policy decision of the government to implement this new scheme. Can you outline to the house what modelling has been done to arrive at the sort of figure that you are talking about in terms of the cost to non-solar participants, and also what does that modelling show in terms of benefit to those that currently have solar?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — It is correct to say that it is government policy to do a review into a fairer feed-in tariff — but that was it; we did not presuppose or pre-empt any conclusions of the Essential Services Commission. Their first-stage consideration of the review presented recommendations that the commission has determined represents the fair value, if you like, of energy fed into the grid. The commission certainly describe all the considerations they have taken into account to arrive at the recommendations that they have. The Essential Services Commission is an independent body. They are a very robust body. Before we ended up in the national market they had played a very strong and strategic role in determining electricity tariffs all round. They are very well equipped and expert and are led by some very strong economists who have developed a set of recommendations that are robust and well informed. We have been very transparent in this. The information is out there and available for anyone to have a look at, to interrogate and to agree or disagree with.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (By leave) — I take it from the last answer that the minister has no idea of what the actual price implications will be, given that no modelling has been done, according to her answer, that this is purely a review and that we will be waiting on further work from the ESC on this. If that is not the case, could the minister outline exactly how we have arrived at where we are now and what the figures may be?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — That is just wrong, and it is not what I have said. I have been very clear about this. We have had other questions in the lead-up to this. The last couple of questions were about what the value is for those who own solar and what the possible pass-through costs are for those who do not own solar. We have dealt with those, and comments have been made, absolutely.

All of that information is based on the very learned and expert work of the independent Essential Services Commission. We made it very clear that we asked them to do a significant piece of work which was independent and without any presupposition of what the outcome ought to be. They have done that work, so if the member has concerns about that, then I would strongly suggest he take it up with the Essential Services Commission because I think they have been very clear in the commentary they have made and in the report they have presented that, following particular scenarios in terms of the value, certain outcomes would result. Those outcomes are what we have been discussing, whether it is in the Herald Sun or whether indeed it is through a range of other stakeholders that have very much welcomed the government's reform agenda when it comes to solar feed-in tariffs.

Unlike others, we want to make sure that consumers get fair value for the energy they feed back into the grid. We want to make sure that renewable energy is affordable and accessible to every Victorian, and that is why we have got a very clear agenda to grow renewable energy and the opportunities for all families and businesses to be able to get access to and benefit from that clean renewable energy.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (By leave) — Based on the last answer, will power prices go up for non-solar householders — yes or no — on top of the Hazelwood power prices going up?

Ms D'AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change) — I will tell you what will not be going up under our government: the record number of disconnections that happened under your government. There were record disconnections.

Victoria has the lowest electricity prices of any state in this country. We have been very clear and transparent about the benefits of renewable energy technologies. We have asked the Essential Services Commission to report on this, to do an independent review. They have done that, and I thank them for their expert work. It is absolutely very clear that for those who do not have solar energy the costs are negligible. The overall benefits are there for every Victorian, whether they have or do not have solar panels on their rooftops.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The time set down for consideration of items on the government business program has arrived, and I am required to interrupt business.

Clause agreed to.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The question is:

That clauses 6 to 23 inclusive stand part of the bill, the bill be agreed to without amendment and that the bill be now read a third time.

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
1 December 2016




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