One third of NSW government cars to be electric
The NSW government has quietly released a plan to turn one third of all new cars in its fleet electric while sitting on another report that warns the cost of energy to charge them is about to skyrocket.
As Treasurer Dominic Perrottet fights to freeze public sector wages and $800 million ANZ redevelopment plans are shelved, Energy Minister Matt Kean is spending up to pursue a green agenda.
Mr Kean has ordered by 2023 that 30 per cent of all new vehicles in the government fleet, about 900 new cars, will have to be electric or hybrid with 10 per cent fully electric.
He also wants to make the city's 8000 buses electric.
But a separate report - released under the cover of COVID-19 last week after sitting on the shelf since December 2018 - warns that energy prices will jump by 15 per cent when coal fired power stations are decommissioned.
"This is just nuts. We have a plan to turn one third of the government's fleet of cars electric without covering off the basics of ensuring a reliable, cheap source of electricity to power them," Shooters and Fishers party leader Robert Borsak said.
Mr Kean's hard line "Net Zero" environment policy, which dictates no carbon emissions in NSW by 2050, will also see new National Construction Code and NSW Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) codes "to ensure new buildings are electric vehicle-ready".
Mr Kean would not detail how much it will cost to implement all the changes, but a departmental spokesman said the money will come from a $2 billion environment deal struck with the federal government this year, of which NSW is contributing $1.1 billion.
He said it would cost $6 million to meet the 10 per cent government fleet target for fully electric cars but this would be partially offset by lower fuel costs.
One Nation MP Mark Latham said insisting on buildings having new charging stations "will be a huge white elephant". "It's going to do a lot of harm to the housing industry, bringing in these BASIX regulations, it's going to add to the cost of housing," he said.
However a report, commissioned by NSW Coal Innovation while Don Harwin was energy minister, was left on the shelf for almost a year and a half. The Wholesale Electricity Pricing Modelling Report appears to contradict the government's electricity strategy that puts more emphasis on renewables such as solar and wind.
Energy experts Frontier Economics prepared the report and warned "our modelling forecasts material wholesale price increases in NSW following the retirement of Liddell Power Station and then Vales Point Power Station."
The report stressed the benefits of having a diverse mix of technologies including gas and coal to provide reliable and affordable electricity. It warned the average $1627 electricity bill could jump by 15 per cent if there is a greater emphasis on renewables.
Mr Kean said the report was a matter for the Resources Minister. "My focus is on ensuring that we keep the lights on and deliver cheaper electricity prices now and into the future, " he said.
An Industry Department spokesman said NSW had a technology-neutral approach to power generation.
Originally published as One third of NSW government cars to be electric