Federal politicians Barnaby Joyce (Nationals) and Greg Combet (Labor) have refused to comment to Echonetdaily on a conflict of interest regarding the regulation of the renewables industry.
CEO of The Australian Gas Light Company (AGL), Michael Fraser, is also the chair of The Clean Energy Council (CEC) which issue licences for the wind, solar and hydro sector.
Despite AGL claiming to be a leader in renewable energy, it also operates large-scale CSG operations and brown coal power plants throughout Australia.
The Clean Energy Council told Echonetdaily last week that its policies are being amended to address micro-turbine hydro technology, which can provide a continuous electricity supply from a running stream or creek.
The comment was in response to Dorrigo based company Pelena Energy closing last week, due in part to CEC policy and regulatory obstacles.
AGL: CSG is low impact
When asked if CEO Michael Fraser’s position would be considered a conflict of interest, an AGL spokesperson instead told Echonetdaily, ‘Coal seam gas extraction is a low impact and low risk industry that can help meet the growing demand for low emissions energy sources. AGL is the best owner/operator to manage Loy Yang [a brown coal power plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley] because of its dominant pipeline of renewable energy projects. The capital generated from Loy Yang will enable AGL to continue investing into renewable energy projects.’
Meanwhile, federal Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce told Echonetdaily that he would not be drawn into whether it could be considered a conflict, a position shared by federal minister of climate change, Greg Combet. His media spokesperson told Echonetdaily, ‘We are not in the practice of making general comments on other organisations that the government is not responsible for.’
He did, however, spruik the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation.
‘Thirteen micro-hydro generators have been supported under the small-scale component of the Renewable Energy Target and there are 100 hydro generators accredited as power stations under the large-scale component.
‘State and territory policies have not provided equal support to micro-hydro technologies, with feed-in tariffs only covering micro-hydro in Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
Meanwhile federal Greens leader Christine Milne told Echonetdaily that the CEC has always struggled to be a strong advocate for renewable energy, ‘because it has always been a hybrid between the fossil fuel industry and the renewables industry.’
‘They have never been able to sort themselves out in terms of having a clear direction because they are always protecting the fossil fuel sector while at the same time advocating for renewables.’