In July, 2017, the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) made a submission to a proposed national electricity rule change that would allow electricity distribution networks to install non-network solutions (i.e. off-grid stand-alone power systems) where it was more cost-effective than maintaining a grid connection for remote customers.
The Australian Energy Market Commission recently published its draft decision on the rule change proposal. While the commission was supportive of the change, it could not be allowed because it would conflict with other energy market regulations.
The commission’s decision points to how having energy market rules and regulations scattered around many different legislative instruments makes the process for reform complicated. The commission has proposed to ask the COAG Energy Council – the national government committee responsible for energy policy – to start the process of reform to make this change.
The ATA’s position on the rule change was similar to that of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre – a NSW consumer advocate – and fairly well aligned with a number of the distribution networks.
After some discussion, the ATA collaborated with PIAC and Energy Networks Australia on a joint submission on the draft decision.
Our submission emphasises the importance of a policy and regulatory framework that allows non-network solutions where they are more cost-effective than traditional poles and wires; it notes that the complexities of the regulatory framework make reform difficult and slow; and recommends that the commission prepares all the necessary detailed work to enact this reform to make the COAG Energy Council’s process more straightforward and, hopefully, quicker than is usually the case.
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