PM Admits Changes to RET are a Cut

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has admitted his government plans to reduce the renewable energy target.

The government wants to adjust the RET to a “real 20 per cent” instead of the 20 per cent level stipulated when the target was put in place.

The RET is a bipartisan target which requires 20 per cent of Australia’s energy use to be sourced from renewable energy by 2020.

Several factors, including changing consumer behaviour, have prompted a decline in power demand and means the original 41,000 gigawatt-hour target will likely represent more than 20 per cent in 2020.

The government has so far refrained from labeling its new policy a cut to the target, however on Thursday Mr Abbott admitted he was dedicated to getting the RET “appropriately reduced and adjusted”.

Earlier, engineering firm Keppel Prince announced it would stop wind turbine production, cutting 100 jobs at its site in Portland Victoria.

It cited yesterday’s decision to push for a reduction of the RET as an influencing factor.

Mr Abbott said while the job losses were regrettable, the company also had an aluminium smelter that employed 160 people who would benefit from plans to exempt energy-intensive trade-exposed industries from the RET.

These include aluminium production, copper smelting, zinc processing and cement-making.

“One of the reasons why we are determined to get the renewable energy target appropriately reduced and adjusted is to protect jobs at the Portland aluminium smelter,” Mr Abbott told parliament.

The government and Labor have begun talks on the RET, however the opposition says it won’t accept the government’s “real 20 per cent” policy.

Labor has previously indicated it would be willing to exempt certain industries like aluminium in a bid to save jobs.

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