Australia

'Now or it's gone' warning on energy plan

Independent Chair of the Energy Security Board Kerry Schott is urging the states to move on NEG. (AAP)

Pressure is building on the nation's energy ministers to move on the National Energy Guarantee at a meeting on Friday.

The opportunity for a national plan to reduce power bills and improve energy reliability may be missed altogether if it can't get off the ground in the next week, the architect of the scheme has warned.

Energy ministers are under pressure to strike an agreement on the Turnbull government's National Energy Guarantee at a crucial meeting in Sydney on Friday.

But opposition from Labor governments in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT is threatening to block the deal.

With two state elections in the next six months, a federal election by May and month-long consultation periods needed on legislation to implement the policy, the time is now, says Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott.

"It's very possible if we don't get agreement in the next week or so this is absolutely off the table until the middle of next year and at that point it's probably gone," she told ABC radio on Thursday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned state governments they will be blamed for high power bills if they veto his "critical" signature policy.

"The time has come to get on with it," he said.

"We need certainty for business to invest in electricity generation and now is the time for (Victorian Premier) Daniel Andrews and his government to step up and stand up for lower electricity prices for Victorians."

Victoria has made a series of demands to secure its support, including that emissions reduction targets be set by regulations not legislation, that they be reviewed every three instead of five years and that a transparent register be set up to ensure the policy looks after consumer interests.

There are conflicting views among industry groups over whether the policy should get support, with some like energy retailer AGL it will deliver certainty for investors.

Smart Energy Council boss John Grimes called the policy a "dud", and called on states and territories to give no more than in-principle support until they know what might be added on at a coalition partyroom meeting in Canberra next Tuesday.

Opponents to the policy within the coalition have indicated they will ask for changes to create what they've called the "NEG Plus".

Among them, former prime minister Tony Abbott shot down Mr Turnbull's claim the coalition party room has already approved the guarantee.

"It was not endorsed by the party room. He's said that before, and I've disagreed with him before," Mr Abbott said.

He believes the "bad policy" will be made worse after Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg comes face to face with his state and territory counterparts.

"We shouldn't ever be expected simply to rubber stamp the Labor Party's policy which is what it will be if it comes to us from the state Labor ministers," Mr Abbott said.

The ESB says the policy ensures reliable energy supply in tight periods, including after the planned 2022 closure of the NSW Liddell power plant, and will help households save $550-a-year on power bills.

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