A program making some of Victoria's biggest companies, including Alcoa, Origin Energy and SPC, find ways to cut their power and water use has been axed by the Napthine government in legislation that passed State Parliament on Tuesday.
The Environment and Resource Efficiency Plans program required major companies to identify ways in which they could reduce power and water consumption at large industrial sites they own and then implement the measures.
About 250 companies that used 100 terajoules of power or 120 million litres of water a year, or both, were required to take part.
In February last year the state government informed the Environment Protection Authority, which ran the scheme, the program would be ''sunsetted'' well ahead of its due end date of December 31, 2014, meaning it has been voluntary for almost a year.
It was officially axed through legislation that passed the Coalition-dominated Legislative Council on Tuesday. Labor and the Greens opposed removing the program.
A 2012 interim report to the EPA said the program had been successful and would achieve savings of $90 million each year at the industrial sites covered. A 2013 consultants' review found ending the scheme early would save $3.5-$4.7 million in avoided business costs. The state government has vowed to cut ''red tape'' by 25 per cent.
The 2013 review also said the program duplicated federal schemes including Energy Efficiency Opportunities and the national carbon price. The Abbott government has since cut funding to the Opportunities scheme and is pushing to repeal the carbon tax.
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Ryan Smith said it had been agreed at the Council of Australian Governments that the Commonwealth would lead in cutting emissions and the decision to end the efficiency plans program was set in the context of the carbon tax, yet to be repealed.
Environment Victoria campaigner Nicholas Aberle said the efficiency plans program cost little to run but resulted in big gains to industry, saved water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
AiGroup Victorian division director Tim Piper said the scheme had not been instrumental in industry changing behaviour and was therefore an unnecessary cost. He welcomed the decision to scrap it.