Spotlight Activity: The Future of South Australia’s Renewable Energy
In the recent election the Labor’s Premier Jay Weatherhill stepped down after losing the election, with Steven Marshall of the Liberal Party taking control of Parliament. Premier Marshall announced that the new government would no longer be taking advantage of Tesla’s offer to install solar panels on low-income houses for no cost. Instead the new government will offer means-tested grants to houses with existing rooftop solar panels and will generally exclude low income earners.
He also announced that South Australia would no longer pursue Labor’s target of 75% renewable energy. Instead, South Australia will follow Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee or NEG. The NEG is the Australian national government’s new flagship energy policy. Experts warn that the policy will not reduce emissions at all, and may hinder Australia’s transition to a zero-carbon electric grid. As part of the NEG, the government offers means-tested grants for solar panel battery installations. Batteries help support the storage of energy generated by solar panels, but if you can’t afford the installation of a solar panel, which many middle income families cannot, then having just the battery is pointless.
Status: Falling Behind
Marshall’s decision to cut lower-income households from no-cost energy security continues to perpetuate socio-economic hierarchies and creates vulnerable sectors of the population. In addition, the last version of the National Energy Guarantee from late 2017 revealed that the Liberal-National Coalition would not be adopting the clean energy target recommended by Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel. It should be noted that Finkel’s recommendation set out an emissions reduction target of just 28% by 2030, whereas many researchers claim that Australia would need to be aiming for 60% reduction in order to fulfil its agreement under the Paris Climate Accord.
In order to pass the National Energy Guarantee, the federal government needs unanimous support from all of Australia’s States and Territories. With the recent change in South Australia, Prime Minister Turnbull all but has unanimous support, except for the Australian Capital Territory. This is despite late 2017 polls finding that, regardless of party preference, Australians strongly support incentives for low-emission technologies and clean energy targets of 65%. For the government to be pushing this legislation demonstrates they are out of touch with the Australian population. You can let the South Australian government know they need listen to their electorates and put their constituents first. Please send the following message to the policymaker below:
I’m writing to voice my concern with the government’s decisions to marginalize lower-income earners from energy security. It is despicable that you would reject an offer from Tesla to install free solar panels and batteries to tens of thousands of houses in favor of a grant scheme that favors higher-income earners and even then, doesn’t cover the entire cost of battery installations. Furthermore, I am concerned about the decision to remove statewide renewable energy goals to follow a national plan that many experts have found to fall short of Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement. This is a woefully backward step to creating long-term energy solutions that support all peoples equally. You pledged to create more jobs and create a government that would work for all South Australians and yet you continue to systematically disenfranchise huge swathes of your constituents based on their income.
South Australia Premier Steven Marshall
Web: Leave a message (you can choose to send this anonymously)
Tel: +61(0)8 8237 9295
Mail: Premier Steven Marshall
Parliament House, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA, 5000