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Agreement on renewable energy finally secured

Agreement on renewable energy finally secured

The Federal Government and Opposition have reached a long-awaited agreement to pass the bill extending Australia's renewable energy target (RET).The aim of the Renewable Energy (Electricity)…

The Federal Government and Opposition have reached a long-awaited agreement to pass the bill extending Australia's renewable energy target (RET).

The aim of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Charge) Amendment Bill 2009 (RET Bill) is to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

To get agreement from the Opposition to secure the passage of the RET Bill through the Senate, the Government has de-coupled it from the bill establishing the CPRS, which - still being the subject of considerable disagreement between the parties - was effectively halting its progress.

The agreement will come as a relief to businesses looking to establish projects in the renewable energy sector. Speaking to Lawyers Weekly before the agreement was reached, Deacons partner Elisa de Wit said the uncertainty surrounding the RET bill, and its coupling to the CPRS bill, had meant that that the renewable energy projects had been stalled, sometimes at considerable expense. "There's a lot of angst about it at the moment, particularly from the clean energy sector. It's causing significant financial impact on industry by not having this legislation in place," she said.

The Greens, however, have labeled the agreement as a "dirty deal", and in particular, they oppose the exemptions and assistance being offered to energy-intensive trade-exposed industries.

"Every Australian should remember that this deal to exempt polluters from the renewable energy target puts the bill for moving to the renewably -powered economy in the pockets of the community, letting polluters benefits from the shift while bearing the costs of none," said Australian Greens deputy leader Senator Christine Milne. "The Greens are determined to bring on the renewable energy target, but we will nevertheless move amendments to challenge the Government and Opposition."

- Zoe Lyon

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