Hydrogen, power bill focus for ministers

Energy Minister Angus Taylor speaks during question time. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images
Energy Minister Angus Taylor speaks during question time. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

HOUSEHOLD power bills, Australia’s future electricity sources and preventing blackouts will be the focus when the nation’s energy ministers meet for the first time this year.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor and his state and territory counterparts are in Perth for Friday’s meeting.

Mr Taylor has stepped away from a national approach to energy, and is instead looking to ink individual deals with states and territories.

But the minister insists they must have “sensible” policies.

“We want states to have policies in place that are going to put downward pressure on energy prices, they’re going to shore up reliability and they’re going to work with us in a sensible way to reduce emissions,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

Each deal will focus on reliability in a bid to ensure Australians won’t be left in the dark as the electricity system transitions to more renewable sources.

NSW energy minister Matt Kean plans to go to the table with a goal of having no homes without power in the state if its two largest generators aren’t working, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel will present his much-anticipated national hydrogen strategy.

The current standard allows for 700,000 homes to be without power for three hours.

Mr Taylor is highly critical of governments with higher renewable energy and emissions reduction goals than his own.

There is no renewable energy target at the federal level after next year, while Mr Taylor plans to use carryover credits to achieve the Paris agreement goals of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Victoria’s energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio says the current reliability standards don’t account for outages from ageing coal-fired power plants or hotter summers being experienced.

“We’ll be pushing for a new, more effective reliability standard and we expect to see it implemented in time for next summer,” she told AAP.

Victoria wants the federal government to prioritise KerangLink, which would connect Melbourne with Snowy 2.0.

Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel will also present his much-anticipated national hydrogen strategy.

Research from The Australia Institute shows the projected demand for hydrogen has been overstated, at times by a factor of 11.

The think tank’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian is urging the ministers to therefore not rush into export opportunities and ensure renewable sources are used to make hydrogen.

ACT’s energy minister Shane Rattenbury will ask his counterparts to support changing the national hydrogen strategy so it only supports clean energy sources and not fossil fuels.

The ministers will also discuss the federal government’s plan to reduce emissions, primarily through the reverse auction scheme where companies are paid to reduce pollution.

The federal government has this year topped up the pool of money used for such programs by $2 billion.