Environmentalists have warned the NSW government's plan to cut power bills for families and businesses won't help in the long term as it fails to reduce emissions and address climate change.
The $72 million package will come from the state’s climate change fund, which was set up in 2007 to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday said the fund had not done much to ease cost-of-living pressures and was now being used in a “practical” way.
“Whilst we’re doing everything we can to reduce emissions and to be good to the environment, we also want to be good to everyone’s hip pocket,” she told reporters in Sydney.
Low-income renters could save up to $400 a year, with the government investing $24.5 million to upgrade more than 20,000 homes with energy efficient lighting, heating and hot water systems.
A further $35 million will be spent to help about 250 manufacturing businesses install energy efficient equipment, saving them about $80,000 a year on bills.
Local councils will get a $12.5 million share of the kitty to upgrade 60,000 streetlights with LED and save up to $22 million on energy costs by 2035.
The roll-out of solar panels will also be accelerated with the state government setting a target for government buildings to reach 25,000 megawatt hours of solar energy a year by 2021 and 55,000 megawatt hours a year by 2024.
The NSW Greens said the plan makes a “mockery” of the government’s net-zero emissions by 2050 target.
NSW Greens MP Justin Field says while he welcomes the energy efficiency measures, the government needs to rapidly reduce emissions and move to renewable energy.
“Failing to reduce carbon emissions and prepare communities for climate change will cost much more in the long term and the government is leaving households and the state’s budget exposed to massive future costs from climate disruption,” he said in a statement on Monday.
The NSW Nature Conservation Council also criticised the package for not including a way to reduce emissions saying the government had no plan to address climate change.
NSW opposition leader Luke Foley blamed the government for rising electricity costs and is promising to regulate prices if Labor wins the next state election.
“The NSW Liberals deregulated the electricity market in 2014 and stood by doing nothing while the electricity companies gouged away,” he said in a statement.