Inquiry into modernising the nation’s electricity networks launched

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An inquiry into modernising Australia’s electricity grid has been launched today by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy.

Chair of the Committee Andrew Broad MP said the inquiry would seek to understand the community’s expectations of the electricity grid, examine challenges and opportunities involved in modernising the grid, and learn from the experiences of other countries.

“New technologies such as renewables and energy storage are already transforming the grid – both here in Australia and overseas,” Mr Broad said.

“We want to hear from the community about their priorities for the grid, and about how a modern grid can better meet the needs of all Australians.”

Mr Broad said the Committee would work together to identify practical recommendations that balance the need for security and affordability, and to ensure that the grid has the flexibility to adapt to emerging technologies and needs.

“The Committee sees this inquiry as an opportunity for all sides to work together in the national interest,” he said.

“The grid is essential to our way of life, but it is complex and needs careful consideration.

“Parliamentarians have an important role to play in building support in the community for changes that will bring about a grid that is more secure, more sustainable, and fairer for consumers.”

Deputy Chair of the Committee Pat Conroy MP said despite the uncertainty about how the mix of electricity generation will evolve into the future, the Committee’s focus would be on the pressing need to modernise the electricity transmission and distribution networks.

“There is a legitimate debate about how our electricity will be generated in the future,” Mr Conroy said.

“Yet, it is already clear that the electricity grid is approaching the limits of what it was designed to do.

“The critical question for the Committee is, what actions can be taken now to ensure that the grid has the flexibility to integrate electricity from a variety of sources at the lowest possible cost?”

In conjunction with the inquiry, the Committee has launched an online questionnaire, which asks households and businesses to share information about how they currently interact with the electricity grid, and about their expectations of the grid into the future.

Written submissions addressing one or more of the terms of reference will be accepted until April 28, 2017.

Further information about the inquiry is available on the inquiry webpage.