26 September 2023

Energy audit plugs into grants

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency had access to more than $2.2 billion to improve renewable energy in Australia.

An audit of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has found that the agency’s management of its grants programs and funding agreements is largely effective and its project selection aligned with its objectives.

In his report Grant Program Management by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Auditor-General, Grant Hehir found however that performance reporting and evaluation frameworks did not position ARENA to demonstrate that it is achieving its objectives.

Mr Hehir found that between 2012–13 and 2021–22, ARENA had access to more than $2.2 billion to provide financial assistance to improve the competitiveness and supply of renewable energy in Australia.

“As ARENA approaches the end of its legislated funding, it is important to provide the Parliament with assurance over the effectiveness of ARENA’s grants management,” Mr Hehir said.

“While ARENA’s grant program management is largely effective, its evaluation and performance reporting frameworks do not clearly demonstrate that its grant funding is increasing the supply and competitiveness of renewable energy in Australia beyond what would otherwise have occurred,” he said.

“ARENA’s performance measurement framework does not provide a reliable basis to demonstrate to the Parliament and the public that ARENA is achieving its objectives.”

The Auditor-General found ARENA’s management of grant funding agreements to be largely effective.

“Improvements are required to ARENA’s management of variations and its integration of electronic systems with its business processes,” he said.

“ARENA’s external evaluations since 2017 do not clearly demonstrate the extent to which ARENA’s programs are impacting on its legislative objectives of improving the supply and competitiveness of renewable energy in Australia.”

The Auditor-General made six recommendations relating to ARENA to strengthen its performance measurement framework, use of information systems, conflict of interest management and other matters.

The full report can be accessed online at this PS News link and the 71-page printed report at this link.

The Audit team was Joshua Francis, Kate Wilson, Isaac Gravolin, Taela Edwards, Sara Casey, Mark Rodrigues and Michael White.

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