WA gets FiT in Budget but misses opportunities on energy efficiency.

The Western Australian Government commitment to implement a feed-in-tariff on renewable energy generation for homeowners is welcomed by the WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).

WA gets FiT in Budget but misses opportunities on energy efficiency.

Analysis by Prof Ray Wills, Chief Executive of the WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).

UPDATED 21 May 2010

Sustainable energy measures in the budget:
o Feed in Tariff for domestic renewable energy systems;
o Project specific infrastructure support for Collgar wind project and provisional support for powerline between Perth and Eneabba;
o Support for improved public transport including the extension of the Northern Suburbs Railway to Butler and the Perth City Link - Transport project;
o Limited support for off-grid wind-diesel systems; and
o Support for urban regeneration of Stirling City Centre - a green city project.
Most glaring omissions in sustainable energy measures in the budget:
o No energy efficiency measures that would counter rising energy prices; and
o No integration of sustainability in infrastructure roll out.

The Western Australian Government commitment to implement a feed-in-tariff on renewable energy generation for homeowners is welcomed by the WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).

However, the absence of any notable commitment to energy efficiency that would have assisted households and businesses reduce energy bills in response to increased energy costs is a disappointing omission.

In his speech, the Premier and Treasurer, Hon. Colin Barnett announced $23 million has been provided to introduce a residential net feed-in tariff to sell surplus electricity from grid-connected renewable energy systems including photovoltaic, wind and water systems.

While the implementation of a feed-in tariff initiative is of course most welcome, it is also well over due as every other Australian State has already put schemes in place, so Western Australia comes in last.

Further, the Barnett Government gave an election commitment to examine ways to extend a feed in tariff beyond home owners that would also include small and medium sized businesses, but we are no closer to knowing when this work will be done.

And while there are some small steps to harvest Western Australia's wealth of renewable energy resources through support for some large and small commercial-scale renewable energy generation, it is evident the Government is yet to integrate sustainability principals in the budget.

Western Australia's growth is being underwritten by the resources sector and we must ensure that growth is sustainable - as we develop the Pilbara and the Midwest, including Oakajee Port, Government must ensure that it is powered by energy that does not grow Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

However, WA SEA recognised a significant, albeit seemingly well-disguised, glimmer of hope in the budget in sustainable infrastructure - the funding of a substantial project that will see the revitalisation of the Stirling City Centre. This exciting green urban renewal project will feature sustainable building practices, the inclusion of energy efficiency in urban and commercial developments, and the use of renewable sources to create emissions-free energy for consumption residents and businesses in a new liveable city.

The budget includes significant line items attributed to the Public Transport Authority, but the largest items in the Perth City Link - Transport project spend money on connecting Northbridge with Perth, not on improving public transport. While welcome improvements to the quality of the swap over in the city are important and not to be discounted, to identify this under public transport is in WA SEA's assessment an overstatement of commitments made to actually improving the frequency, quality and extent of public transport services.

WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) Media Release - 20 May 2010

Editors notes:
1. Treasurer's Budget Speech: http://www.dtf.wa.gov.au/cms/uploadedFiles/State_Budget/Budget_2010_11/2010-11_budget_paper_no1_speech.pdf
Budget papers:
2. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of enterprises has a growing membership of over 320 industry members from a diversity of businesses, and the largest state-based industry body of its kind in Australia. www.wasea.com.au.
3. WA SEA bringing you the Energising SE Asia Conference 23-36 March 2011, Perth.
4. Budget extracts:

The Premier and Treasurer, Hon Colin Barnett, has announced in today's budget speech a commitment to a Feed in Tariff for Western Australia. From the Treasurer's speech announcing: "that funding of $23 million has been provided to introduce a residential net feed-in tariff scheme from 1 August 2010. This will encourage more homeowners to install grid-connected renewable energy systems, including new and existing photovoltaic, wind and water systems and to sell surplus electricity back into the grid. This honours an election commitment to introduce a feed-in tariff to provide a genuine incentive for homeowners to install renewable energy systems."

From p. 589 of the 2010-11 BUDGET Statement, a comment:
"Funding was provided in 2009-10 to design and develop a subsidised premium net feed-in tariff scheme for micro-generation. This scheme will commence on 1 July 2010 for residential premises. The merits of extending it to small and medium sized businesses are still being evaluated. The premium net feed-in tariff will be paid through Government-owned electricity retailers, Synergy and Horizon Power. Details of the scheme will be made available prior to 1 July 2010. "

Note the date above contradicts the date given in the Treasurer's speech - the date of 1 August 2010 in the Treasurer's speech should presumably be regarded as the correct date.

From p. 597 of the 2010-11 BUDGET Statement:
"Sustainable Energy
An allocation of $2.6 million has been made for expenditure on wind-diesel systems situated outside of the SWIS. "

Also in terms of infrastructure, the following from p. 598 of the 2010-11 BUDGET Statement:

A total of $840.8 million has been allocated to transmission works over the budget period. Customer-driven works is forecast at $99.5 million with $741.3 million for new capacity, asset replacement, public safety work and other regulatory compliance programs.

The customer-driven transmission works includes connecting generators, supply to new bulk loads, system upgrades and augmentations. Partial funding of these works is provided by customer capital contributions. These works include the connection of the Binningup desalination plant and the Collgar windfarm located near Merredin. "

From p. 562 of the 2010-11 BUDGET Statement:

The Stirling City Centre project is an urban regeneration initiative that will deliver an integrated city centre around the Stirling train station and the Innaloo retail precinct. $5.5 million of State funding has been allocated for detailed studies in order to facilitate investment through a consortium of private sector and government investment."

From p. 445 of the 2010-11 BUDGET Statement:

Public Transport Authority "ASSET INVESTMENT PROGRAM
The Authority's planned asset investment program from 2010-11 to 2013-14 is $1.1 billion with $222.7 million estimated
to be expended in 2010-11.

Key projects contained within the asset investment program over the four year period from 2010-11 to 2013-14 include:

Perth City Link - Transport project:
− will deliver the sinking of the Fremantle railway line between Perth Station and Milligan Street and the construction of a new underground Wellington Street Bus Station over six years at a total cost of $609.3 million;
− consists of a railway tunnel for the Fremantle line, extension of the Joondalup line tunnel, demolition of the western pedestrian overpass and platform modifications to Perth Station and construction of a new pedestrian connection with the Perth underground platforms as well as demolition of the existing Wellington Street Bus station and construction of a new underground bus station with dedicated connections to Milligan Street and the James Street bus bridge;

Extension of the Northern Suburbs Railway to Butler:
− construction of the 7.5 kilometre extension of the Northern Suburbs Railway from Clarkson to Butler is due to commence in 2010-11, for completion in 2014-15, and at an estimated cost of $240.7 million; and

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