Govt weighing up support for power assets including coal
The Turnbull Cabinet will "carefully consider" taxpayers supporting new power assets, including coal and gas plants, in the wake of the damning consumer watchdog review into prices.
Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, said the recommendation in the ACCC report "has merit", after the Prime Minister also left the door open.
Mr Frydenberg told the Today Show said underwriting new sources of power "certainly could include coal and gas".
But also renewables, the minister said.
"The ACCC doesn't specify what type of technology is should support," Mr Frydenberg said.
"The focus is the outcomes. Namely lower prices, and a more stable system.
"This is certainly an important recommendation and one that certainly has merit too."
Malcolm Turnbull told a lunch in Brisbane, the government would look further at the proposal.
"But this recommendation has the distinct advantage of being thoroughly technology-agnostic and well designed, should serve our goal of cheaper and reliable energy," he said.
The recommendation was immediately seized upon by Coalition M.P.s, pushing for more coal and gas-fired power stations as vindication for their push back against the government's energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee.
Former prime minister, Tony Abbott, the most outspoken critics of what he sees as a more green friendly policy, said the ACCC recommendation backed calls for more base load power in the energy market.
It was seen by some, as a way to end the internal Coalition war of energy.
But, as Mr Frydenberg pointed out, it doesn't specify one form of generation.
"What the ACCC has identified is a market failure that new generation assets can't be built because the companies that want to build them can't get the finance from the banks," the minister said.
"And one of the reasons that can't get the finance is they can't secure agreements with the energy users for long-term.
"So, what they're saying is the government needs to step in here and provide some sort of surity."
The ACCC report contains 56 recommendations, that if accepted, it says, would cuts household power bills by hundreds of dollars a year.