Hogan’s seat in danger if Feds mess with solar subsidies

A CLEAN energy advocate has warned any tampering with the Renewable Energy Target by the Federal Government could see Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan lose his seat at the next election.

There has been mounting speculation the target, which helps subsidise rooftop solar and reduce the wholesale cost of electricity, will be diluted.

The target is only being reviewed at present, but senior Coalition figures, including the Prime Minister, are understood to be ideologically opposed to it, despite vowing to keep it in place at last year's election.

But the Total Environment Centre's Mark Byrne said any changes to the target would provoke a serious campaign in marginal seats by the renewable energy industry and environment groups.

By reducing the target, he said, "the government would be risking its electoral standing on the Northern Rivers".

There's been consistent polling that shows the overwhelming majority of Australian support renewable energy and the renewable energy target," Mr Byrne said.

"If it is significantly reduced or abolished, then the clean energy industry and environment groups will no doubt mount a major campaign to remind voters of that broken promise, and they would probably target marginal seats like Page at the next election."

Mr Byrne said about 20% of households on the Northern Rivers had solar panels and the industry was still in a growth phase.

Andy Turnbull from Lismore-based Nickel Energy, which sells solar panels to homes, businesses and schools from Coffs Harbour to Queensland, said solar sales were predicted to fall by 30-50% if the RET was diluted.

The Business Council of Australia is lobbying for changes to the RET and says because electricity demand is falling, renewable sources are actually forecast to be worth 27% of all electricity used by 2020, and are "crowding-out" existing, cheaper sources.

The Business Council of Australia argued in a submission that the RET was preventing a "level-playing field" between renewables and traditional sources.

In a brief response to questions about the target, Page MP Kevin Hogan said he supported the "20 per cent Renewable Energy Target by 2020" and wanted to ensure the local solar industry "continues to prosper".

Topics:  renewable energy target solar power

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