The Australian Government will trial the participation of energy networks and major greenfield sites as part of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) Program to assess the potential energy savings available to these sectors.


“Under the existing EEO Program industry participants have reported annual net cost savings in 2011 of over $800 million and it is important that we spread the benefits of this program to other sectors where it can be proven there is a net benefit,” Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson said.


The trials for energy transmission and distribution networks, major greenfield sites and expansion projects will be undertaken over the next 12 months and will include thorough consultation with industry throughout the process to ensure the development of an effective assessment and reporting framework.


“While the expansion of the EEO Program offers potential energy saving benefits to these sectors, the Government recognises the need to work collaboratively with industry to optimise outcomes for program participants,” Minister Ferguson said.


“During consultations undertaken earlier this year industry raised the need for more time to fully understand and appreciate how the application of the EEO Program will operate when applied to both energy networks and greenfield sites and the Government has taken this feedback on board.


“The trials will better inform how the program should be applied and the relative costs and benefits of program participation to these sectors.”


In addition, the Government will undertake a statutory review of the first five year cycle of the EEO program. This review will assess the effectiveness of the program in building energy management capability and identifying and implementing cost effective energy efficiency opportunities.


“In 2011, EEO Program participants reported that they have or will implement energy savings of almost 90 Petajoules of energy.  This represents 1.5 per cent of Australia’s total energy use and is the equivalent energy use of 1.8 million Australian households,” Minister Ferguson said.


“While these are good results, it is important that we look at how we can further streamline the EEO program with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting requirements to reduce the regulatory burden on industry while still delivering energy savings to business.”


The necessary EEO regulatory amendments to facilitate this trial will be tabled by the Government in due course in preparation for participation of the networks and greenfield sectors. The Government will consider further regulatory changes as required following the outcome of the trials and following industry consultation and feedback.


The Department will soon release additional details on the timing of the program expansion, including industry consultation and any expressions of interest from industry to participate in the trials.


Further information about the EEO program is available at

Legislation to establish an independent expert scientific committee to provide advice on impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining proposals on our water resources has passed the House of Representatives.


Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the legislation would allow for more rigorous scientific assessment of coal seam gas and large coal mining proposals, in particular how these proposals will affect underground water resources and our rivers.


"I know that there is significant community concern about the impact of coal seam gas and coal mining developments on our water resources," Mr Burke said.


"That's why the Gillard Government has acted to create The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development.


"We want to make sure that decisions by governments in relation to coal and coal seam gas developments are informed by the most rigorous scientific evidence available, in particular where those developments are likely to have a significant impact on water.


"The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development will play a vital role in ensuring that independent scientific advice is available to all governments when they consider applications for these types of developments.


"In this way, we have established the independent committee and we have funded it.


"It will provide local communities and other stakeholders with accessible and reliable information as well as giving the coal seam gas and mining industries greater guidance on the sustainable management of water resources in areas where they propose developments."


An interim committee was set up in January pending formal establishment of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee. The interim committee has already provided valuable independent advice to the Australian Government and will continue until it hands over to the new committee from 1 July, 2012.


The legislation, which amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to set up the committee, will now be introduced into the Senate.


Mr Burke said the committee would provide advice on research priorities that address critical gaps in scientific understanding, and oversee research commissioned by myself in line with those research priorities.


"When requested, the committee will provide further evidence to inform regulatory decisions made by governments," Mr Burke said.


"It will provide advice on options for increasing the quality and accessibility of knowledge available on the impacts to water resources from coal seam gas and large coal mining developments, for example, in the collection of data.


"The committee's work will be supported by a national partnership agreement with relevant state and territory governments that will require them to seek and take account of the committee's advice when considering approvals for coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.


"So far Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia have signed the agreement – negotiations with Victoria and the Northern Territory are continuing."


Mr Burke said the committee would also provide advice on the priority areas for bioregional assessments and oversee their delivery. The interim committee has started work on the first five bioregional assessments in regions facing significant levels of coal seam gas and coal mining developments, such as the Galilee, Gunnedah, Gloucester and Clarence-Moreton basins.


The Australian Government has provided $200 million to establish the new Independent Expert Scientific Committee and assist states that are parties to the national partnership agreement to introduce the necessary reforms to seek the committee's advice when deciding on coal seam gas and coal mining applications.


For more information visit

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, has introduced the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) legislation to Parliament following agreement between the Gillard Government, the New Zealand Government and states and territories.

Researchers used dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) rather than the traditional silicon. This dye adsorbs light energy and produces a current that is transferred into a metal oxide, niobia. Niobia is an inexpensive, chemically stable and environmentally friendly material.

The Victorian Government has officially opened the state’s new $4.8 million biodiesel at Shell’s Newport Terminal.

The Queensland Government has given conditional approval for the $6.4 billion Alpha Coal Project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, the first mine in the region.

The Queensland Government has approved a major 44 kilometre sector of pipeline within the Callide Infrastructure Corridor State Development Area (CICSDA), a major section of the 435 kilometre gas transmission pipeline for the Gladstone project.

The Senate Standing Committees on Economics is to conduct an inquiry into the Clean Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 and related bills.

Origin Energy has announced that Australia Pacific LNG Pty Limited has signed agreements with a syndicate of domestic and international commercial banks and export credit agencies for an US$8.5 billion project finance facility. Participants in the facility include the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM), The Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM) and a syndicate of domestic and international commercial banks.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced it will not oppose the proposed acquisition by AGL Energy Limited (AGL) of Great Energy Alliance Corporation Pty Limited (GEAC), which owns Loy Yang Power (LYP) (owner of the Loy Yang A power station).

The Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, has announced the appointment of an independent expert committee to help Innovation Australia deliver the $1 billion Clean Technology Investment programs.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has praised the Federal Government’s Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEIO Program, describing it as a successful example of how government policy can work with industry to reduce energy use.

The Queensland Government has announced it has withdrawn financial support for the Cloncurry Solar Farm as part of the state’s ongoing cost cutting.

Australia’s consulting engineering, architecture and associated industries are set to experience a chaotic next three years with continual restructures required in order to remain globally competitive, according to Consult Australia’s 2012 Economic Forecast report.

The Report, written by former BHP Chief Economist, Geoffrey Bills is considered one of the industry’s most valuable economic predictors and is used by many of Australia’s largest firms, including Parsons Brinkerhoff, SMEC, Hyder, GHD and AECOM.

In the short-term, the Report forecasts a fairly rosy future for the industry.

The backlog of work in engineering construction is set to sustain high levels of activity until 2016 with firms operating in this space expected to experience 22 per cent growth over the next 12 months.

Consult Australia CEO, Megan Motto said this signifies a welcome commitment to infrastructure development in the short-term but warned it wasn’t all good news.

The Western Australian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it has granted approval to Toro Energy to construct the state’s first uranium mine, after the proposal was ‘meticulously examined by the board.’

The Queensland Coordinator-General has declared the $2.2 billion coal terminal at Yarwun in the Port of Gladstone a ‘significant project’, meaning the project will now undergo an environmental assessment.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has published the 2012 electricity performance report for the Victorian distribution network service providers (DNSPs).

The Western Australian Government approved the construction of a new $443 million transmission line for the state’s Mid-West region.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) has announced it will put in place a world-class subsea response solution to mitigate and control any risk of uncontrolled discharges from offshore wells.

The Federal Government has announced a $1 million funding boost to assist dairy farmers to lower their energy costs.

The Federal Government has announced $20 million in grants to improve the energy efficiency at small and medium businesses and community groups.

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