Tuesday, June 17, 2008

$150m plan to slash energy use

Brian Robins
June 18, 2008

HOUSEHOLDS and businesses will be asked to make deep cuts in their energy use under a State Government plan that mirrors the way household water consumption was cut during the drought, with the ambitious aim of slashing the growth in energy consumption to zero.

A $150 million package to be released today includes tough new energy targets for business, energy-saving kits for low-income families and advice for 6000 small- and medium-sized businesses that focuses on lighting upgrades and improving air-conditioning and refrigeration.

The program also aims to cut by at least 10 per cent the energy use of 800 medium to large businesses, while overhauling the energy efficiency component of the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme with new targets.

More importantly, legislative targets will be imposed on the state's 200 largest energy users. This alone is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 tonnes a year. The largest energy users have drawn up detailed assessments of their energy use and potential savings, which will have to be implemented under the new plans.

"Energy consumption is rising at 1 to 2 per cent a year," Verity Firth, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, said. "It would be good if this target offsets this growth, curbing our growth in energy demand. Hopefully this program will deliver very real energy savings in terms of electricity bills."

A 25-year program of energy efficiency in California has seen energy consumption per person rise by only about 10 per cent since 1980, while in the rest of the US it rose by 50 per cent. If NSW matched California, this would cut household electricity bills by close to $300 million a year, or about $115 a household, Ms Firth said.

The Government expects a saving of $415 million from the $150 million spent in this newly flagged series of measures, with the details of the statewide energy reduction targets to be decided by industry experts over the next few months and introduced from January 2009.

"For the next five to 10 years, one of the best and easily implementable means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is energy efficiency," Jeff Angel of the Total Environment Centre said.

The largest component of the spending program is the $63 million for energy advice and kits to 220,000 low-income households, with $15 million on the program targeting small businesses and $20 million for mid-sized companies.

In addition, $20 million is to be provided for extra training for tradesmen and businessmen to meet increased demand for plumbers, electricians and interior designers who can provide energy-efficient design and building services. A further $27.5 million will be spent on an awareness program.

Part of the funding for the $150 million package will come from the Climate Change Fund, which receives the levy imposed on retailers such as EnergyAustralia and Integral Energy.

The package of measures to be outlined today forms part of a series of other energy programs already under way, such as phasing out electric hot-water storage and installing "smart" meters measuring electricity consumption in the home.


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