Finkel blueprint the ‘last, best hope’ for energy customers

The Finkel Review’s blueprint deserves a disciplined implementation response, according to Energy Networks Australia.

Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel presented his final report to COAG leaders in Hobart on Friday and unveiled a blueprint to optimise the National Electricity Market as a world-class electricity system.

Energy Networks Australia chief executive officer John Bradley said the 200-page blueprint would require careful evaluation, followed by urgent implementation actions to stabilise Australia’s energy system.

“This blueprint is the last, best hope that Australian energy customers have for a secure, reliable and affordable energy transition,” Mr Bradley said.

“The individual measures in the blueprint need careful review but its greatest success would be compelling Australian governments to act together to lock down an agreed, national ‘Strategic Energy Plan’.”

Mr Bradley said bipartisan support for a clean energy target recommended in the blueprint could give much-needed certainty to investors and Australians confidence that emissions targets would be met.

“A well-designed, national clean energy target would meet abatement outcomes without picking technology winners, so that would mean lower costs to customers,” Mr Bradley said.

“To be successful, the clean energy target needs an enduring, broad political commitment that lasts beyond the next election cycle.”

Mr Bradley welcomed proposals for an Energy Security Board to deliver the blueprint and provide oversight, a system-wide grid plan, and regional security and reliability assessments.

“A transforming energy system needs strong well-resourced and proactive energy market institutions, with a shared plan of action and accountability for clear milestones,” Mr Bradley said.

“We welcome the report’s emphasis on improved forecasting capabilities, cyber security and millions of small customers with solar, storage and other resources in an integrated grid.

“The report recognises Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap analysis highlighting the potential to avoid $16 billion in future network spending by ‘orchestrating’ distributed energy resources.

“We also welcome the recommendations to remove arbitrary barriers to new gas supply development, with a focus on evidence-based environmental regulation.

“Australia can’t address electricity system security without removing arbitrary blockages to gas supply and ensuring gas markets are working effectively.”

Mr Bradley said Australian energy networks would provide every assistance to COAG Energy Council as it provides its implementation advice to COAG by August 2017.