The government’s flip-flopping Renewable Energy Targets have been blamed for Meridian Energy’s decision not to proceed with the Burdekin Hydro Power Generation project in Northern Queensland
Meridian Energy announced late last Friday that the company would not proceed with the project due to destabilising revisions to Australian energy policy sought by the Federal Government.
Meridian Energy Australia Chief Executive Ben Burge, said that over the past 18 months, the company had worked with local communities, landowners, SunWater (the local water authority) and the Queensland Government to successfully position this project to deliver significant benefits to the wider Northern Queensland region.
“Meridian understands the disappointment that the people of Northern Queensland will feel on learning of this decision. However, the Federal Government’s protracted efforts to reduce the Renewable Energy Target have made long term capital investments in energy assets in this country nearly impossible.”
“This is especially disappointing given the role that the Burdekin project stood to play in enhancing energy security in Northern Queensland, which is expected to emerge as a threat in the medium term,” says Burge.
But for regulatory uncertainty around the Renewable Energy Target, the Burdekin Project stood to meet the growing energy needs of agricultural and mineral businesses of the region, providing around 150 local jobs (including training for indigenous communities) during development and construction.
“The Federal Government’s position on the Renewable Energy Target is puzzling given that its own Warburton Review revealed that the policy does not increase the net costs of electricity for Australian consumers. At a time when electricity bills are significantly impacting the cost of living, the Renewable Energy Target introduces more competition into the Australian energy market, and serves as an important policy for relieving the pressure on electricity bills.”
By investing approximately $1 billion in renewable energy over the past five years (under the explicit invitation to long term capital embedded in the RET) and rolling out a new model of electricity retailing enabled by the RET, Meridian and Powershop have enabled some Victorian customers to save over 40% on the costs of their electricity bills.
“Meridian’s and Powershop’s hope was to deliver meaningful savings in Queensland with the Burdekin project as a foundation investment. Sadly, the decision to undermine the long term investment signals of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) makes it more difficult to realise these benefits for Queensland businesses and households,” says Burge.