NSW TransGrid lease a setback for renewables: Greens

THE $10.3 billion paid for the long-term lease of New South Wales' high voltage transmission TransGrid network raises serious questions about what guarantees have been given to the consortium and their costs for consumers and the future of the renewable energy industry, according to the Greens.

Lou Caruana

TransGrid was privatised by the NSW government via a 99-year lease to a consortium comprised of a Canadian pension fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and local infrastructure funds.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: “The over-the-odds sale price looks like consumers have been served up on a platter to the multi-national consortium.

“TransGrid is the nerve centre of the electricity system in NSW.

“If a top-dollar sale price was locked in with a series of contract sweeteners, then inevitably it will be consumers and the renewable energy industry who will pay.”

With annual revenues of only $2.2 billion, TransGrid was set to be the smallest of the leases yet it has brought in what looks like a highly inflated price, according to Kaye.

“This will help Mike Baird politically and it will provide for additional infrastructure but inevitably the additional cash will be extracted from households,” he said.

“The Australian Energy Regulator wrote down TransGrid's allowable annual revenue from $2.9 billion to $2.2 billion.

“Clearly the new leaseholders are expecting something more for their $10.3 billion investment.

“The transmission network, set up to deliver electricity from the state's five large coal fired power stations to urban centres and large industry, is at risk of becoming an impaired asset.

"Somewhere hidden in this deal there will be a massive sting in the tail for NSW.

“Today the people of NSW have lost control over their energy future to a consortium of multinational corporations that care nothing for households or the clean energy future.”

Greens MP Jan Barham has said the NSW Government's opposition to legislation that would lock in sensible climate action shows their rhetoric fails to match their policies.

“The Climate Change Bill I introduced to the NSW Parliament would hold the current and future NSW Governments accountable for delivering action to reduce emissions and prepare for climate change across the whole of government,” she said.

“The Baird Government's alarmist claims in opposing the Bill show that despite all their talk about wanting to be a leader in renewable energy, they're not serious about doing what's necessary to ensure the future wellbeing and success of this state.”

The Greens' legislation would mandate a target of net-zero emissions by 2040, with every Government required to produce four-year plans for emissions reductions and climate change adaptation. Governments would be accountable for following through on their plans through annual reporting and the possibility of legal proceedings against decisions that would decrease the state's ability to meet its targets.

“In defending its record on climate change, the Government pointed to its Energy Savings Scheme, which they say will deliver emissions reductions of 1.9 million tonnes by 2020. That's less than 1.5% of the state's annual emissions. They're tinkering around the edges when we need dedicated action across the whole of government to drive the transition to a clean society and economy,” Barham said.

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