7 minute read

Empowering disadvantaged households to access affordable, clean energy

Eleanor McCracken-Hewson
03 August 2017

This week The Climate Institute, the Australian Council of Social Service and the Brotherhood of St Laurence released a joint report identifying areas where policy-makers must focus attention if the transition to a modern, low-emissions energy system is to be affordable, equitable and inclusive.

The report highlights that this challenge will need to be approached from a number of angles, including:

  • minimising the costs of the transition, including through orderly closure of the aging thermal generation fleet and sectoral policy certainty for the achievement of Australia’s emission reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement;
  • distributing system costs fairly, for example through re-examining frameworks for the recovery of costs associated with network expenditure and renewable energy policies;
  • overcoming barriers to the take up of distributed energy resources and energy efficiency measures by vulnerable households;
  • promoting improved engagement of vulnerable customers in the energy market; and
  • re-calibrating income support measures in recognition of the system costs associated with a once-in-a-generation transformation of the energy system.

AGL agrees that these are important areas of focus, having noted similar priorities in our own public policy advocacy, including in our contributions to the Finkel Review.

Beyond the overarching areas of focus, the reports sets out a number of more detailed potential policy measures to be further explored in the second phase of the project. As the authors acknowledge, many of these require further analysis and testing. They must be approached with care to ensure that any solutions are well targeted to bringing vulnerable households along in the journey to a modern, low-emissions and affordable energy supply system, whilst also supporting choice and innovation to accommodate the heterogenous needs and preferences of the full spectrum of electricity customers.

AGL supports the report’s sentiment that better integration of climate, energy and social policy are key to facilitating an equitable and inclusive transition.