Incoming South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says cutting energy costs to business and households is a major priority for his new government, with a $200 million inter-connector fund a centrepiece of his plans to deliver cheaper power.
Mr Marshall is also getting on the front foot with a proposal for a $100 million household storage battery fund, which would provide means-tested grants of around $2500 to households with solar panels that want to install home storage batteries. It would cover about 40,000 households. Getting the fund up and running is among the projects earmarked for the first 100 days of Mr Marshall’s government.
The Liberal Party aims to fast-track an interconnector between South Australia and the rest of the National Electricity Market, with the $200 million inter-connection fund designed to speed up the process of making a final decision.
The state’s transmission network provider Electranet has been working for months on different options for interconnectors. Gas explorers will be quarantined from prime farming land in the state’s south-east near the Victoria border, with Mr Marshall intending to put in place a 10-year moratorium on fracking in that region.
He said on Sunday that he would welcome further investment by big renewable energy players such as Elon Musk and Sanjeev Gupta into the state, but the most pressing goal for his Liberal government is to cut the cost of energy bills for businesses and households.
Mr Marshall said the door is open for anyone who wants to make further investments in South Australia as he seeks to re-invigorate the South Australian economy.
Asked about his approach with Mr Musk’s Tesla and Mr Gupta, the British billionaire whose SIMEC-Zen Energy is preparing to build an even larger storage battery in the state than the Tesla battery, which formed part of Jay Weatherill’s $550 million energy fix-it plan last year, Mr Marshall, said the state was open for business.
“We’ll be welcoming all people who want to invest in South Australia,” he said on Sunday.
The Liberal Party isn’t in favour of the state-owned $376 million fast-start turbines built by APR Energy late in 2017, which were also part of the Weatherill government’s energy fix-it plans, but it is unclear how that might be unravelled.
Mr Weatherill in February announced a proposed $800 million virtual power plant connecting 50,000 households over four years where they would be provided with free solar batteries and Tesla Powerall 2 batteries, but that project is dependent on finding sufficient outside investors.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday the election of Mr Marshall would bring more common sense to energy policy in the state.
“South Australians have voted for a return to sensible energy policy and a more affordable, reliable energy system,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Mr Frydenberg has been a fierce critic of the aggressive pursuit of renewable energy in the state and accused Mr Weatherill last month of being like a gambler doubling down to chase his losses, after Mr Weatherill lifted the state’s renewable energy target to 75 per cent by 2025. Mr Frydenberg said it was at the expense of reliability and keeping energy prices down.
Originally Published by the Australian Financial Review, continue reading here.