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Assurances on VRET household protections. . .

Assurances on VRET household protections

By Emma King.
Published on the VCOSS Voice on 24 August 2017.
http://vcoss.org.au/blog/vret-assuranceas/

It was great to be in a position yesterday to voice the Victorian Council of Social Service’s support for Victoria’s Renewable Energy Targets.

Hours earlier, the Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced that the targets—to generate 25% of the state’s power by 2020 and 40% by 2025 from renewable sources—would be enshrined in legislation.

This is bold, ambitious and important policymaking. It’s what leadership looks like.

VCOSS also voiced concerns about the impacts such a scheme might have on vulnerable or low-income households. As Victoria’s peak social welfare and advocacy body, these are real concerns.

As The Age put it in today’s editorial:

It will be important to monitor prices to prevent those least able to afford power from carrying a disproportionate cost. Again, the move to renewable energy is not optional, so there should be consideration of policies to relieve the burden on those on the lowest incomes.

Today, I was pleased to meet with representatives from Minister D’Ambrosio’s office and receive assurances on this front.

The government has assured VCOSS that vulnerable households will not pay any extra on their energy bills to achieve these targets.

(Indeed, the Victorian Government has already agreed to absorb all of the immediate costs associated with the current legislation.)

It was clear from our discussion the Victorian Government understands that people facing poverty or disadvantage will need extra help navigating our changing energy landscape, as was argued by the recent bi-partisan Thwaites-Mulder Review.

The government has assured VCOSS that vulnerable households will not pay any extra on their energy bills to achieve these targets.

 

However, these valid concerns shouldn’t be used by opponents of clean energy to keep Victoria locked in the past.

Those calling for the abandonment of the VRET because of any hardship it might cause to vulnerable people are missing the point.

Of course, whenever there are seismic shifts in our economy there is a chance vulnerable people will miss out. But the answer isn’t to hide under the doona and shirk our responsibility to embrace a greener, cleaner and healthier future.

The answer is to develop safeguards and protections that ensure any associated costs are distributed equitably across the Victorian community, and don’t land unfairly on the shoulders of our most vulnerable.

We’re pleased this is the position of the Victorian Government, and I look forward to working with Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to make this a reality.

Emma King
VCOSS CEO

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