Submission to the RET Review

19th May 2014

Miwa Tominagi is passionate about the solar industry and has written (16/5/15) this submission for the RET review:

"Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission to the RET Review.

"Working in the solar industry for many years, we love helping everyday Australians install solar panels on their roof to save on their electricity bills. Currently Australia’s electricity prices are among the highest in the developed world and have doubled in the last 5 years, due to the needless gold-plating of the network. The RET helps Australians by providing a point-of-sale discount of about 20% when they purchase a solar panel system. This is a significant discount on the initial capital cost of the system, providing incentives for Australians not only to install solar but also leading to many other positive outcomes such as:

  • Immediate savings on electricity bills
  • Protection from future price rises in electricity
  • Becoming smarter about their electricity usage 
  • Energy efficient building upgrades
  • Energy efficient appliance innovation
  • Created over 18,000 jobs in the solar industry across 4,000 small to big solar business
  • Reduced the wholesale cost of electricity by reducing peak demand
  • Increase reliability of supply by reducing peak demand
  • Eliminated huge profits made by power generators
  • Seen the democratisation of energy.

"It’s a win-win for the Aussie battler, renewable energy businesses like us, and for a cleaner, healthier community for future generations that is committed to solving climate change.  

"The RET scheme has been successful in creating the 3.5 million Australians living with solar today. This is over 12% of Australian households who are getting their daytime power from solar panels. Most of these are low income households in regional and rural areas. Keeping the RET is the only way we can support Australian innovation in the renewable energy industry.

"Renewable energy generation, particularly solar, has been proven to lower the wholesale price of electricity as it matches the peak demand of the network. University of Melbourne researchers found that low-cost generators on the network, like renewables (eg. wind) with no fuel costs means high-cost generators (eg. gas peaking plants) need not be used, resulting in lower prices. This is called the merit order effect. Household (distributed) renewables like rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) has the same effect on merit order.

"Richard Dennis from The Australia Institute says: 'peak demand days are fantastically profitable for the big coal-fired power stations. In fact it's been estimated that they make around 25% of their annual profit from around 36 hours of electricity supply. And now there's a new kid on the block and that is solar, and from the coal-fired power station point of view you couldn't have a worse competitor, because solar is at its best when the market is at its most profitable.'

"We cannot let pass that Australians can see through the hand-picked RET review panel (who have explicit links to the fossil fuel industry) and the fact that this whole pointless review is a waste of tax payers money. We can see that this has been set up to protect the profits and vested interests of the archaic fossil fuel industry. We should not be supporting their 100 year old business model with subsidies. The Australian renewable energy deserves a level playing field.

"The RET was reviewed less than 18 months ago and it was recommended that it be maintained. The chair of the Climate Change Authority Bernie Fraser, a former Reserve Bank governor, is wary of the reasons of the current RET review saying: 'Policymakers need to look beyond short-term economic considerations in the interests of some of the big companies to longer-term community interests. And that's what governments are supposed to do, but unfortunately it's not happening at the present time, it's very disappointing that we're falling behind, and we are falling behind what many other countries are doing.'

"We not only strongly support keeping the current RET but increasing it to 100% renewable energy by 2020. This has been shown in various research including reports from think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and academic institutions such as University of NSW and Standford University in the US.

"We strongly urge you to maintain and increase the RET so that we can provide renewable energy careers to the next generation. Australians are currently among the world leaders in renewable energy innovation – let’s show the world how we can use our abundance of sunshine and wind to secure our clean energy future!"