The head of energy infrastructure owner Jemena has joined the chorus of energy sector executives calling for clear government policy, saying uncertainty is jeopardising large investments.
Managing director Paul Adams, a 30-year veteran of the sector, has called for a bipartisan approach during the transition to renewable energy.
“I think there are three or four right answers, but our view is just pick one and we’ll find we have actually got it sorted,” Mr Adams told AAP.
“Where people have different answers you are not sure you are investing under one set of rules or another, and that just costs everyone a lot of money.”
His comments come amid a heightened debate over energy as the federal government pushes AGL Energy to keep its Liddell power plant running for an additional five years beyond the end of its life in 2022.
Canberra also intervened in the gas market earlier this year, introducing the threat of export curbs on Queensland’s giant LNG projects after the market regulator warned of energy shortages and spiralling prices.
Mr Adams acknowledged the government is reacting to the situation, but his biggest concern is the lack of bipartisan policy.
“What we need is the policy certainty so that we can actually build the infrastructure, fund it and get the solution happening,” he said.
“It sounds easy but for some reason it has got hard.”
Jemena operates $10.5 billion worth of major utility infrastructure on Australia’s east coast, and is backed by the State Grid Corporation of China and Singapore Power.
It is building the $800 million Northern Gas pipeline to connect gas reserves in the Northern Territory with east coast gas markets, and has faced its share of policy uncertainty, particularly a moratorium on fracking introduced by the NT government in late 2017.
Mr Adams said the ban had impacted Jemena’s project, but he is hopeful the government would work out areas where fracking can still be carried out.
“From a short term perspective, it has created some delays in signing up gas contracts,” Mr Adams said.
“On the other hand we are a long term investor and we would rather go through a full detailed study and come out with a long term solution.”
Gas is expected to flow through the 622 kilometre pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa in Queensland by the end of 2018.
Jemena has so far signed up only Incitec Pivot as a foundation customer on its pipeline, but Mr Adams says negotiations are continuing with other parties.