Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today warned of an impending “energy crisis” as tensions rise surrounding a dramatic shortfall in gas-powered electricity production.
Speaking to a conference hosted by the Australian Financial Review this morning, teh Prime Minister warned that the findings of Wednesday’s report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) were concerning. He argued that something must be done to address the shortening of gas supplies.
“We are facing an energy crisis because of these restrictions on gas,” Turnbull said. “What we have now is a scarcity of gas driven by politics because state governments are not allowing exploration and development of onshore gas.”
Wednesday’s report warned of potential blackouts and security concerns throughout Australia from as early as next year. It declares that drastic action must taken to protect and reinvigorate gas-powered electricity production.
These problems are expected to initially hit New South Wales and South Australia next year, followed by Victoria in 2021 and Queensland between 2030 and 2036.
Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg had earlier expressed similar concerns over the attitudes of state governments to the issue.
“This report is another reminder why the states and territories, who are locking up gas with moratoria, bans and regulatory restrictions, need to urgently rethink their position,” he told The Australian.
“More gas supply and more gas suppliers will only enhance the security and affordability of our energy system.”
Prime Minister Turnbull has already taken the first steps to address the problem. He has called a meeting with the heads of all major east-coast gas companies to begin putting together a plan to allay the threat to their customers.
“We must think very carefully about how we manage our electricity system,” said the Prime Minister. “In a rapidly changing market, we must be keeping the lights on.”
In a Q & A following his address, the Prime Minister promised that the guiding principles he would stick to in dealing with the energy crisis would be “economics and engineering” rather than politics and ideology.