Coal, gas price caps welcome but renewables the real solution to energy crisis: communities

Coal, gas price caps welcome but renewables the real solution to energy crisis: communities

Caps on wholesale coal and gas prices agreed to by state and federal governments today are a welcome step to bring power bills under control, but the long-term solution to Australia’s energy crisis is renewable energy, say communities.

Chao Zhou, a volunteer coordinator with Parramatta Mission, said any real, long-term solution to the energy price crisis should prioritise giving people on lower incomes and renters more access to renewable energy.

Mr Zhou is part of the Western-Sydney based group Voices for Power, who are pushing for clean and affordable energy for their communities.

“With my own eyes, I have seen people in our community bending – at times breaking – under the sheer weight of cost-of-living and energy bill challenges.

“Around 150 people in need visit us at Parramatta Mission each day for free meals and support, and assistance with energy bills has become a regular part of the services we help our guests access. 

“We especially want to see state and federal governments tackle cost-of-living issues directly by upgrading the homes of renters and people on lower incomes so they’re more energy efficient, and supporting them to access renewable energy.”

Nature Conservation Council of NSW Director of Advocacy and Policy, Dr Brad Smith, said: “Energy prices have risen 20% this year and that is putting enormous strain on households and businesses. We welcome collaboration from the State and Federal Governments to address rising power bills by capping the skyrocketing prices of coal and gas. The next priority is to reduce our reliance on coal and gas to help stabilise our energy market. 

“Renewable energy, like wind and solar, paired with storage, is the best and more affordable way to both ensure a reliable supply of electricity, and address the need to reduce power bills and emissions.

“Just this week, the International Energy Agency released a report that says renewable energy will surpass coal as the world’s largest energy source by 2025. Our global energy crisis has highlighted that coal and gas are expensive, and the only way to guarantee lower energy prices in the future is to protect households and businesses from the volatility of the global market by providing them with locally generated renewable energy.”

Both Mr Zhou and Mr Smith were among 200 representatives from a diverse range of communities and organisations who gathered at an assembly in Parramatta with NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean last week.

They asked Mr Kean for NSW Government support for households to transition from gas to more efficient energy systems, to invest in an energy hub to help communities access government schemes and get the best energy deals, and reconfirm their commitment to minimum energy efficiency standards for rentals.  

Photo caption: Chao Zhou, a volunteer coordinator with Parramatta Mission

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