The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed the federal government's creation of a $1 billion energy grid reliability fund but warned more needs to be done to achieve energy security for Hunter industry.
The fund aims to to underwrite the integration of renewable energy and grid stabilisation technologies.
It will support clean energy projects including energy storage, pumped hydro, grid stabilising technologies and transmission and distribution infrastructure, including eligible projects listed under the Underwriting New Generation Investments program.
Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said the projects that had been shortlisted under the program would generate just over half of the power currently produced by Vales Point, Liddell and Eraring power stations.
"Renewables have an important part to play in our future energy mix and further investment in supporting infrastructure is welcome, but there is still a significant gap in supply that needs to be addressed as our coal-fired power stations come to the end of their operating lives," Mr Hawes said.
"Our manufacturing industries cannot operate viably without a reliable and affordable energy supply. As a country, we need to ask ourselves what level of industry we want to have in Australia into the future and whether the policy directions and project outcomes we are contemplating support those needs."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the fund would be used to keep "an eye to the future," rather than building new coal plants or upgrading old ones.
"The government will only refer Underwriting New Generation Investments projects that reflect the Clean Energy Finance Council's legislative mandate for consideration under the fund," he said.
Energy Minister Angus Taylorsaid "sufficient reliable generation capacity" was critical during high-demand periods, which are expected to put pressure on energy grids as coal-fired power stations are phased out.
"The Grid Reliability Fund builds on our strong action to stabilise the grid and get the energy generation balance right, to deliver affordable, 24/7 reliable power," Mr Taylor said.
" This fund is designed to tackle that and is part of a suite of initiatives that the government is delivering to ensure when people flick the switch, the lights come on and stay on."
The Hunter and NSW Business Chambers have called for a national policy on energy that addresses the energy trilemma of affordability, security of supply and Australia's international commitment to emissions reduction targets.
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