The Queensland government has scraped together $250 million from a number of other clean-energy programs to pay for the initial funding of its new clean energy company.
The government on Thursday announced the establishment of CleanCo – first announced in last year’s budget but not officially allocated money until now.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the money was put together from several clean energy programs already in place, including the Powering Queensland plan.
“That is all money that is currently within our forward estimates so there’s no additional money at this point in time,” Ms Trad said
“But we believe these initiatives, which were earmarked for funding, are better delivered by CleanCo going forward.”
The treasurer wasn’t able to say how much CleanCo would eventually cost, saying that would depend on what power assets it eventually invested in.
The government estimates the company will drive down power prices by around $70 a year by increasing competition and investing in renewable energy sources.
Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said they planned for the company to be generating 1000 megawatts by 2025.
“The best way to bring down power bills for Queensland families is by investment in renewable energy sources,” Dr Lynham said.
He said CleanCo also put the government on track to achieve its 50 per cent renewable energy by 2050 target, with the state currently sourcing around 20 per cent of its power from green sources.
The Liberal National Party claimed the initiative is a stunt attempted to appease the Left faction within the Labor party.
Labor should instead adopt the opposition’s policy to mandate renewable investment by state-owned power stations, Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander proposed.
“They are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, money they don’t have, on a scheme that all the experts say will make not one ounce of difference to electricity prices,” Mr Mander said.
“Even their mates, the Electrical Trade Union, have called this a scam.”
The ETU has previously criticised CleanCo as “privatisation by stealth” amid concerns for workers at coal-fired power stations.
ETU members protested outside state parliament as this year’s budget was handed down in June, calling the consultations with the government on CleanCo “hollow, tokenistic and a sham”.
Dr Lynham defended the government’s position, saying coal power would be part of the state’s energy mix for a number of years.
The ETU welcomed the announcement on Thursday, but urged the government to allow its power generators to build, own and operate renewable energy assets until it reaches its renewable target.
It also wants the government to commit to retaining energy jobs in regional and remote areas as the state transitions from coal.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has asked the government to reconsider including an existing gas power station in CleanCo’s portfolio due to its contribution to climate change, while the Queensland Resources Council said varied energy investment was sensible.
“By adding a renewable energy generator to the mix, Queensland will further consolidate its role as a heavy lifter in the National Electricity Market,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.
The government also announced a special body would be set up to ensure any affected workers are looked after and to ensure pathways for workers in existing power sectors to transition to the renewable sector.