Legislative priorities

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The main focus of the renewables campaign in Australia is to retain the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), extend its life span, and raise the target beyond today's level of 9600 GWh of annual power delivery by 2010 -- nominally a 2% renewables target at today's levels of electricity consumption. But the MRET will need further refinements for the legislation to achieve its objectives

In particular, the penalty, or shortfall charge on power retailers for not meeting the target, must be linked to the consumer price index. This would, argue the campaigners, guard against inflationary effects that may result in retailers electing to pay the penalty rather than buy new renewable energy generation. Some submissions to the government's review are also calling for the penalty to be increased. The Australian Wind Energy Association wants it raised to at least A$55/MWh. This is to ensure that any deviations in the demand supply do not result in penalty payments, but rather in new developments.

Strengthened MRET legislation, combined with a keenly anticipated improved standard regulatory framework as a result of the current general energy review, will enable other issues to be resolved, the wind industry argues. It will mean greater certainty in the planning process, which, in turn, will result in lower project costs. In the long term, the drive to install large amounts of wind power under the MRET will force a resolution of the transmission and grid issues, which are currently constraining the spread of renewables.

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