ACCC to deny coordination between electricity participants

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The ACCC is proposing in a draft determination to deny authorisation for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and electricity industry participants in the National Electricity Market to coordinate the scheduling of repairs, maintenance, renewals upgrades and new connections and associated information sharing.

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The ACCC said it recognised the challenges in the transition to increased reliance on renewable electricity sources and had taken into account the current energy market reforms designed to better equip AEMO and the electricity industry to manage the National Electricity Market.

“While there are challenges arising from the transition towards renewable electricity, currently we do not consider that the proposed coordination would significantly increase AEMO’s ability to manage the scheduling of outages,” ACCC acting chair Mick Keogh said.

Coordination and information sharing between competitors can breach competition laws. ACCC authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that could raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA). The ACCC can only authorise these arrangements if the public benefits from the coordination outweigh the detriment.

“We are not currently satisfied that the proposed coordination is likely to result in public benefits that would outweigh the likely harm to competition, given AEMO’s existing powers,” Keogh said.

The ACCC considers that the reforms recently implemented, soon to be implemented and those currently being contemplated by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) will further assist AEMO to manage the scheduling of outages during the transition to renewable electricity generation.

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Conditional interim authorisation for these arrangements remains in place while AEMO and electricity industry participants have the opportunity to respond to the draft determination, before the ACCC makes it final decision.

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