Chris Bowen takes aim at gas companies as Allegra Spender slams ‘fossil fuel price crisis’

Energy Minister Chris Bowen is urging Australia’s gas companies to do the right thing for consumers as he grants the energy market operator new powers to store gas to combat shortages.
“There is a social license against business, and gas companies need to do the right thing for Australian domestic consumers, both industrial and domestic,” Mr Bowen told the ABC on Thursday, while ruling out the imposition of exceptional taxes on gas companies.
He said liquefied natural gas will be needed to help Australia switch to renewables, although he criticized the Morrison government’s “gas recovery” as “a fraud”.

“We need gas to stabilize while we build storage and transmission (for renewables),” he said.


“We don’t have that infrastructure at the moment.”
Unlike coal-fired power plants, gas-fired plants “can be turned on and off very quickly”, which is why “gas will play a role” in the transition to renewables, Mr Bowen said.
Allegra Spender, a top ‘teal’ Independent MP, said rising energy prices were caused by ‘a fossil fuel price crisis’ and the government and gas companies should do more to help consumers Australians.
“We have the energy in this country, it’s absolutely tragic that people are in this situation. I think the government can do more and what we’re looking at right now is a fossil fuel price crisis. “, Ms. Spender told the Today Show on Thursday.

“You see gas prices and coal prices around the world skyrocketing because of the war in Ukraine.”

A woman speaks to journalists

Independent MP for Wentworth Allegra Spender. Source: AAP / BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIMAGE

Ms Spender said the government must ensure that Australian consumers “are protected from those international price increases which are driven by international circumstances”.

“Exactly what the government should be doing is working with the gas companies and saying ‘guys, you know the people – Australians, families and businesses expect to be able to access affordable energy, you make big profits you’re not paying a lot of corporate tax on the east coast and you’re making big profits because of this price spike you need to come to the party and make sure Australian consumers and businesses are protected,” she said.

Ministers agree to plan to deal with energy emergency

Mr. Bowen Wednesday where they were briefed by the Australian Energy Regulator, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the head of the Energy Security Board (ESB).
The federal government has granted the energy market operator new powers to store gas to tackle shortages, while the scope for regulators will be strengthened to ensure transparency in the sector.
Energy ministers agreed on an 11-point plan at the emergency meeting, called as the country’s electricity suppliers grapple with gas shortages and soaring energy prices.

Mr Bowen said there was no “silver bullet” or overnight solution, blaming his predecessors for a rigid energy grid unable to adapt to ever-changing pressures.

“AEMO could not procure gas and keep it in reserve to release in case of emergency and crisis,” he said after the meeting.
“It’s technically possible. There are storage facilities all over the country. We agreed to work to give that power to AEMO, and give it to them quickly.”
The Australian Energy Market Commission has been tasked with further developing the capacity mechanism which ensures that power stations are available to generate electricity when needed.

The capacity mechanism will focus on new technologies such as transport, storage and renewables, but Mr Bowen did not rule out the use of coal-fired power plants when asked if they would be included in the mix energy.


“It’s designed to improve system capacity,” he said.
“I also think it should be led by experts. In terms of the detailed design, ESB will do their job and put it through detailed consultation.”

The development of a national transition plan for the energy market before the next meeting in July was also agreed.

Nationals push Albanian government on nuclear power

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese should agree to a cost-benefit analysis of nuclear power, the Nationals say, as the debate continues over electricity prices and energy security.
Nationals say it makes no sense that Australia is the only country in the G20 group to ban nuclear power.
Nationals leader David Littleproud has written to the Prime Minister asking him to seriously consider small-scale nuclear power.
But the Labor Party dismissed the technology as too expensive and not a serious solution to cutting energy costs or cutting emissions.

Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey said it was time for Australia to consider the benefits of new nuclear technologies, in terms of cost, emissions and energy security.


“We are the only G20 country to legally ban nuclear power,” Senator Davey told Sky News on Thursday.
“Yet we are the third largest producer of uranium in the world.”
She said if the government supported a technology-based transition to net zero emissions, nuclear had to be in the mix.
“Australia needs to move on – it’s not the 70s and 80s anymore, we don’t have the Nuclear Disarmament Party anymore and even green voters say nuclear should be considered because it’s zero energy emission.”
Aging coal-fired power plants have made the task even more urgent, she said.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said people who talk about nuclear power are “literally chasing unicorns”.


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