Support energy plan, businesses tell MPs

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg could be open to including coal in the national energy guarantee

Pro-coal MPs have had an "unequivocal" message from big manufacturers to fall into line behind the coalition's national energy guarantee.

Senior executives from steelmaker BlueScope and resources giant BHP were in Canberra on Tuesday urging the coalition's backbench energy committee to back the plan.

They came after Tony Abbott threatened to vote against his own party's policy, continuing his decade-long crusade against emission reduction schemes.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said some of Australia's biggest electricity consumers had made it clear to MPs it was time to end uncertainty in the energy market.

"The politics and the ideology and the idiocy ... we will rule a line on that," Treasurer Scott Morrison told reporters on Tuesday.

"They've had an unequivocal and unanimous message in that this is an important change that will actually reduce cost for business and make sure that the business is more competitive."

Committee members and other dubious government MPs want assurances about supply reliability under the national energy guarantee, and whether it will drive down power prices.

Before the meeting, committee chairman Craig Kelly said his colleagues were worried Australia's industry would be put at a disadvantage against foreign competitors.

"If they can explain to the backbench committee how this reliability guarantee won't adversely affect them, I'm sure it will have enormous support," Mr Kelly told ABC radio.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, who has been trying to lock in support from the pro-coal backbenchers, said coal was "absolutely critical" to Australia's energy mix.

He is reportedly drafting plans to include either new coal or gas investment as an "add-on".

"The best chance for existing coal-fired power stations and indeed for new ones to be built is to get the investment framework right, which the national energy guarantee provides," Mr Frydenberg told ABC radio.

Labor senator Doug Cameron worked as a maintenance fitter at the Liddell power station in NSW for seven years, describing it as a "mess".

"To try and keep that going now, a 50-year-old power station, just says it all about the incompetence of the backbench and the ideological bent that the backbench of the coalition have," he told reporters in Canberra.