Agreement on renewable energy target gets closer

AN agreement on the federal government's renewable energy target is close after talks over the weekend.

The ABC reports that Environment Minister Greg Hunt had discussions with the Clean Energy Council and the Australian Industry Group.

The original target of the RET set in 2008 was 41,000 gigawatt hours, or 20 per cent of demand, of renewable electricity by 2020.

The government has since argued the actual figure should be 26,000 gigawatt hours, or what it called a "real 20 per cent", due to falling household electricity consumption.

There also have been discussions around making the aluminium industry exempt from the target.

Gladstone's Boyne Smelters Limited has called on politicians to reach an agreement on the target, so that legislation to provide a 100% exemption for aluminium from January 1, 2015 can be implemented.

BSL says that since 2001, the aluminium industry has paid more than $500 million in renewable energy target costs, with BSL contributing $125 million.

BSL general manager of operations Joe Rea said the continuation of target costs had to be absorbed by smelters that added value to Australian natural resources at a time when the industry could least afford it, and when many other Australian manufacturers had closed or were signalling their closure.

"RET costs us around $25 million per annum at BSL," Mr Rea said.

"Affordable energy is critical for aluminium smelters. Removing regulatory costs such as the RET would help secure the long-term future of aluminium smelting in Australia."

BSL says it employs about 1000 people and indirectly supports about 6700 jobs nationall,y with 3000 of these jobs in the Gladstone region. 

Topics:  aluminium environment gladstone business gladstone industry renewable energy target

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