The state government’s announcement this week of an energy task force to ensure Victoria has reliable and affordable power supplies has been welcomed by the local state MP.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said the near closure of the Portland aluminium smelter after it was damaged in a power outage in December highlighted the need for a reliable power supply.
“Cheap and reliable power is imperative to the economic success of our region,” Mrs Britnell said.
“We are the leading dairy producer in the country and are the largest manufacturing hub in Victoria - these are both energy intensive industries,” she said.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) said the state cabinet energy task force would have to deal with the twin failures of Federal government policy making and electricity sector privatisation.
FOE Act on Climate campaigner Leigh Ewbank said the federal government's failure to account for climate change in energy policy had led to increased power prices, energy insecurity and more pollution.
"It's time for Premier Daniel Andrews to rein in power companies who fleece householders while trashing our climate," Mr Ewbank said.
The announcement of the energy task force came as new Grattan Institute research found competition in the Victorian electricity market had failed to deliver affordable power prices for householders.
The institute’s report found the steep rise in power bills in Victoria was unjustified because power companies had not had to cover major new investment in poles and wires.
The state government also announced this week it would invest an additional $20 million to support large-scale energy storage initiatives across Victoria that could store up to 100 megawatts by the end of 2018.
The $20 million fund comes on top of the government’s call last month for expressions of interest in building a 20 megawatt energy storage facility that is earmarked for western Victoria.