Labor, Greens talking energy

LABOR is close to securing the support of  minority government partner the Greens for its energy policy, after months of negotiations.

Only six sitting days remain in which to introduce and debate legislation required to carry out the reforms to merge the state's three energy companies into two and allow households to choose their retailer.

It's been five months since Labor released its detailed response to an expert energy panel's report. The Opposition supports the raft of reforms, but will refuse to support them in parliament unless the government also commits to handing back the carbon tax.

The Greens released a detailed energy policy in August, which varied from Labor's on some key points.

The Treasury went as far as carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal to set up three trading rooms within Hydro to provide wholesale competition.

It is understood that won't be pursued, but the Greens are keen to leverage additional investment in smart grid technology.

Greens leader Nick McKim confirmed yesterday that rolling out smart meters and associated infrastructure was a priority.

``It would be jobs rich, it would allow people to take more control over their power bills and bring their power bills down and also means we will have to invest less in poles and wires, which brings downward pressure on power prices,'' he said.

A spokesman for Premier Lara Giddings said the government was committed to improving the energy network's efficiency and smart grid technology was part of the strategy.

``The energy businesses have already been active for some time in developing smart grid initiatives, which provide better outcomes for customers and greater efficiency without increasing electricity prices,'' he said.

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