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Labour's energy plans: Some welcome, some problematic - AD

While various aspects of Labour's energy plans are welcome, others can be problematic,” AD chairman Michael Briguglio said.

In a statement this morning, he said that the energy mix concept and the proposed shift from heavy fuel oil to gas was welcome, as this meant there was cross-party consensus on a shift to cleaner energy after years of neglect in Malta's energy sector.

The importance given to renewable energy was also welcome, especially since Malta was at the bottom of the list in the EU on usage of such energy.

Labour, however, had to be clearer in its proposals. Progressive tariff structures which discouraged waste were also welcome.

Dr Briguglio said that Labour was being too optimistic on the price of gas and on time-frames.

“Like other fossil fuels, including heavy fuel oil, its price is likely to increase in the years to come, due to increase in global demand and limited supply.

“Besides, Enemalta's €800milion worth of debt has to be factored in. Labour should present studies to back up its specific proposals. We also question Labour's proposed time-frames, as processes for tendering, environment impact assessments and other requirements for the construction of a power station take considerable time to be completed. As regards water tariffs, what is needed is to ensure that theft from boreholes is stopped, as this is creating problems of unsustainability which will result in price increases.”

AD’s energy policy insisted on a leading role of the state in the energy sector, in massive investment in renewables; and in penalising waste while subsidising basic use of energy.

AD spokesperson for energy Ralph Cassar said that AD’s energy vision was based on conservation and the careful use of resources, social justice and efficiency. A wiser use of resources such as water meant that more wealth and value added would stay in the country.

“By giving incentives to industries that use clean energy or by making better use of limited resources, employment will increase. The state should subsidise the basic consumption of energy while penalising waste.

“The state can make good for the expenditure required by progressive fiscal measures such as windfall taxes and taxes on harmful environmental practices.  Massive investment in renewable energy will reduce dependency on fossil fuels, which are facing inevitable price increases due to limited supply and increasing demand.”

Mr Cassar said that the state should have the leading role in energy policy and supply. It should be ensured that energy use is sustainable, that energy poverty is avoided and that employment is not precarious.

“This also holds for energy provided by the private sector. If the private sector does not manage to reach these aims, the state should intervene and regulate in an effective manner,” he said.

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