The federal opposition has criticised the government and the Victorian government for not doing enough in the short-term to prevent energy prices spiking.
A proposed capacity mechanism is being discussed by state and territory energy ministers as a tool to ensure reliability of power supply amid an unprecedented period of transition but it will not come into effect until 2025.
Coal and gas – as well as renewable power technology – would be eligible for payments, with the market operator responsible for forecasting, buying enough capacity and determining demand.
Liberal senator James Paterson says the government needs to take responsibility for any blackouts that happen on its watch after Victorian Premier Dan Andrews ruled out including fossil fuels in the capacity mechanism.
The Energy Security Board moved to include coal and gas in the mechanism to shore up supply while the country transitions to renewables.
“It’s a very big call by Victoria to say that they can get through this winter without any blackouts without relying on any incentive payments at all to bring more gas or coal into the system, and it’s a very big call by (Energy Minister) Chris Bowen to let them get away with it,” he told Sky News.
Labor MP Peter Khalil hit back at the Liberals, saying the current strain on the power grid was a legacy of nine years of underinvestment in renewable energy.
“The reality is this, the government has had to act because nothing was done for nine long years. It was a complete mess,” Mr Khalil told Sky News.
But Senator Paterson said the incoming prime minister had all the information available when he took over the job when he promised power bills would be reduced by $275 under his watch.
“It’s all very well and good to blame your predecessors but if there are blackouts on his watch, Anthony Albanese has to take responsibility for that,” he said.
“He knew everything he needed to know about the state of the electricity market a few weeks ago … and yet he’s already walking away from that commitment.”
The government is aiming to have 82 per cent renewables powering the energy market by 2030, and recently updated Australia’s emissions target with the United Nations.