COAG Energy Council agrees to fast-track critical transmission

Transmission tower and high-voltage lines (projects)
A transmission tower (Image: Shutterstock)

Federal, state and territory energy ministers have agreed to rule changes that streamline the planning and approval of important transmission projects.

The COAG Energy Council, which is chaired by Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, agreed to the changes proposed by the Energy Security Board (ESB). 

The rule changes make the Integrated System Plan (ISP) actionable, and provide co-ordination between the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) planning and the approvals process. 

Minister Taylor said that more investment in cost-effective transmission was critical to maintain the reliability and affordability of the electricity system. 

“These rule changes will speed up the approval of priority transmission projects by streamlining the regulatory approvals process”, Mr Taylor said. 

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“New transmission lines are paid for by consumers through their bills, and any regulated transmission projects that are being built must provide long term benefits to consumers, and those benefits need to be greater than their costs.

“It is the role of the Commonwealth to ensure that consumers are not paying unnecessary costs.

“It is critical to ensure the right projects get built, at the right time, but it’s equally important to protect customers from overbuilding or gold-plating the network.”

Under the agreed rules, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is responsible for producing two sets of guidelines that set out the approach AEMO must take in producing the ISP. 

The AER also retains its powers to monitor compliance with the requirements set out in the laws and rules, and will continue to decide if the costs proposed by networks to deliver transmission projects are efficient.  

AEMO is expected to publish the final version of its 2020 ISP in mid-2020.

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