It is also calling for a probe into whether -- and by how much -- energy suppliers are under pricing energy by changing the structure of pricing during the transition to competitive supply markets. Such practices were in evidence recently in Victoria and Tasmania, the group says.
SEICA notes that a survey by the Electricity Supply Association of Australia showed that 97% of respondents believe Australia should be making greater use of wind and solar energy and that many people say they will pay extra for such energy sources. "In this context, it is of concern that the only scenario of future energy presented in the Green Paper suggests that the proportion of Australia's energy supplied by renewables will decline over the next 25 years," SEICA states. "The mode of discussion of renewable energy systems in the Green Paper may be inferred to place them in a marginal role, suited only for niche markets. This is incorrect."
SEICA also accuses the government of shying away from a truly competitive market. It notes the government's Green Paper, which acknowledges full costs should be charged, also states more work is needed to assess the impacts of full pricing. "Failure to charge full costs for energy adversely affects sustainable energy options, which generally have low environmental and social costs," says SEICA. To promote renewables the group proposes the government provide more R&D funding, low-interest loans and conduct a public awareness campaign.