Neck and neck

In just over a week residents of NSW head to the polls in an election that is proving a tightly fought contest. A look at the parties’ respective renewables policies shows Labor has far more advanced plans for a carbon free future and the steps to get there, but can it secure the lead to realise ambitions?

Led by Michael Daley the NSW Labor party is targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and will deliver a total of 7 gigawatt of new, renewable energy which is sufficient to power more than three million homes by 2030.

As previously reported, the package also paves the way for a new State Owned Corporation that would deliver another 1 GW of renewable energy generation and storage over the next decade.

And turning to rooftop PV, a Solar Homes policy would enable eligible households access to a rebate capped at $2,200 per household. The scheme would not be dissimilar to that of Victoria’s which has placed the state in top position for rooftop PV installations and smashed all records.

Up to 500,000 households would be supported to install rooftop PV under NSW Labor’s plan.

The Smart Energy Council welcomes such an incentive in NSW and briefed media on the benefits, calculating households sporting a 4 kW system would shave around $600 off the annual electricity bill of $1800.

Importantly, a Daley Labor Government would follow suit of interstate counterparts by introducing and inaugural renewable energy target for NSW.

In other positive measures, a Labor government would require NSW to generate a minimum 50 per cent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 while transitioning to 100 per cent energy from renewable sources by 2050.

What about the dirty black stuff?

Labor sees “no future” for new coal-fired power stations in NSW and in a similar vein would call for a statewide moratorium on coal seam gas and designated permanent off-limit areas for CSG such as water catchments.

But the vote on March 23 could go either way, with Michael Daley and Gladys Berejiklian facing a tight race in an election in which Labor has a narrow lead but with one in four voters tipped to give first-preference vote to independents or minor parties.

And one outcome could be the Coalition leading a minority government.

So now a look at NSW Liberal/National party plans.

First the black stuff, with the party supporting an energy generation “balance” that could pave the way for new coal fired power stations. The party also supports coal seam gas mining under certain provisos such as exclusion zones and approval from the Independent Planning Commission.

The party also supports net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

How to get there?

Up to 300,000 eligible households in NSW could install solar panels through a low interest loan. Additionally loans of up to $9,000 for a battery system and up to $14,000 for a solar-battery system will be available.

The party estimates families with a $500 quarterly electricity bill could save up to $285 a year on their bills while repaying the no interest loans, and that savings would rise to >$2,000 a year once the loan is fully repaid.

In addition each year as many as 130,000 self-funded retirees will be able to claim $200 to help with their power bills.

So what might pan out on the election night of March 23? Maybe not much, according to ABC election analyst Antony Green who says it’s highly unlikely he’ll be calling the results that evening due to the number of “tight, three-cornered contests around the state which would likely render the usual election calculator redundant”.

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