The Clean Energy Council has challenged the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to explain its calculations after the group appeared to over-estimate the cost of renewable energy by billions of dollars in a media release late yesterday afternoon.

Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh said the figures provided for the future cost of renewables seemed to be so far out of the stratosphere that it was hard to see how they could be taken seriously.

"We agree completely with ACCI that pragmatic structural reforms that will lead to lower power prices are required. However, there is nothing pragmatic about using figures that are inflated well beyond breaking point in order to attack renewable energy," Mr Marsh said.

"The figure they have used for the future cost of the Renewable Energy Target appears to be one invented by the Institute of Public Affairs, which makes assumptions that are in some cases almost 10 times beyond current reality and projections made by the Australian Energy Market Commission and other market modellers.

"ACCI also ignores the fact that intensive and trade-exposed energy users enjoy billions of dollars in exemptions from the scheme, according to government figures.

"If ACCI was serious about energy reform and lowering prices for business, there are many options at our disposal beyond dismantling a scheme delivering billions of dollars and thousands of jobs at the lowest possible cost to consumers, such as the Renewable Energy Target."

Mr Marsh said ACCI had surprisingly also chosen to ignore the projected impact of soaring gas prices on energy users over the next decade.

"The volatile fuel cost of gas is likely to be one of the biggest costs affecting businesses, industry and households out to the end of the decade. It is already being felt in Queensland, where the Queensland Competition Authority recently confirmed that the increased cost of gas was the most significant driver of increased energy prices last year.

"Renewable energy can help to mitigate this in the future, not only through large-scale power plants, but through technologies such as solar power which can help both small and large businesses to cut their power bills and improve their energy productivity.

"In contrast, the government's own figures show that the cost of renewable energy such as solar and wind power will come down sharply towards the end of the decade."

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 03 9929 4111 for more information or to arrange an interview.