Unveiling the proposal at a COSBOA roundtable in Melbourne this week, Greens climate change and energy spokesman Adam Bandt (pictured) said that “small business is bearing the brunt of the old parties’ addiction to gas and coal”.
“The government loves to talk up its small business credentials, but businesses are talking about closing because [federal Energy Minister] Angus Taylor doesn’t have the guts to get energy prices under control,” he said.
“The Greens will stand up to the big power corporations on behalf of small business.”
At last year’s National Small Business Summit, it was revealed that many small businesses are struggling under the weight of hefty energy bills, with one example showing a business was being charged an average of $500 per day for electricity.
This week, Mr Bandt announced a six-point proposal to tackle the cost of energy for SMEs — headlined by the establishments of a publicly owned, not-for-profit energy retailer called Power Australia.
According to the Greens MP, Power Australia would buy cheap renewable energy and on-sell it under low-cost plans to small businesses.
The party also proposed the creation of a Small Business Clean Energy Fund to encourage SMEs to improve their energy efficiency or switch to renewable energy.
The fund would initially operate by way of a $200 million cash injection by the government over four years, under which SMEs could apply for grants of up to $10,000 each. Eligible businesses would also be able to claim upfront deductions under the small business instant asset write-off.
“In addition to offering cheap, clean electricity packages to small business, our package will help businesses fuel switch from gas to electricity in the short term, while boosting research and development so we can transition away from gas entirely,” Mr Bandt said.
Other aspects of the proposal include:
- Reinstating the Clean Technology Program, which the Greens said was scrapped by the Abbott government.
- Investing $100 million to “support specific research, development and commercialisation into industrial substitution and electrification programs in the chemical and other manufacturing and fabrication industries”.
- Offering small businesses 10-year loans of up to $15,000 to put towards the cost of installing battery storage for solar and other renewable energy generation systems.
- The creation of “Clean Energy Solution Centres”, which would “support business to implement audits and develop energy efficiency plans”.
“Our plan will help small businesses reduce power bills and reduce pollution,” Mr Bandt said.
The announcement comes two weeks after flat-pack furniture giant IKEA officially launched the first of its fleet of fully electric delivery vehicles, with plans for its entire Australian fleet of trucks to be electric over the next six years.