The role of the National Wind Farm Commissioner will be further expanded to cover new major transmission projects.
To reflect the expanded role, the National Wind Farm Commissioner will now be known as the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Government is committed to ensuring community concerns about transmission projects are acknowledged and addressed throughout the design, planning, construction and operational phases of deployment.
“Transmission investment is crucial to the security and affordability of our grid,” Minister Taylor said.
“As these critically important transmission projects take shape, we want to ensure that any concerns community members have are heard and resolved in the appropriate way, and the Commissioner’s expanded role will facilitate this.
“I thank Mr Andrew Dyer for taking on these additional responsibilities, his ongoing commitment to this important role and for his achievements since commencing the role in 2015.”
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Since 2015, the National Wind Farm Commissioner has played a key role in helping community members and stakeholders work through issues related to wind farm development and operations. In 2018, the Government expanded the Commissioner’s role to also include managing concerns relating to large scale solar and storage installation.
The Commissioner will now also facilitate the resolution of complaints and community concerns about new major transmission projects, as well as assist industry and governments to identify and adopt best practices for deploying these projects.
The Morrison Government is advancing all major priority transmission projects identified in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2020 Integrated System Plan.
The Government is working with state governments to support early works on transmission projects including Marinus Link, Project EnergyConnect, HumeLink, and VNI West.
The Government is also encouraging the development of new transmission projects through the establishment of a $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund to be administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
These critical transmission investments will bring new generation into the energy system while shoring up the reliability and affordability of the system across state borders.
The expanded role has been welcomed by the Clean Energy Council, with the Council stating it’s a welcome step to ensure the significant investment in Australia’s electricity network is well planned, managed and has strong community engagement and support.
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Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said, “The wind industry has made a concerted effort in recent years to lift the quality of its community engagement practices, and this focus is reflected in a reduction in complaints made by community members over time, despite increasing levels of activity.”
In 2019, the Commissioner received 75 new complaints nationwide, a number of which related to construction matters in a year with substantial construction activity. The vast majority of complaints received during the year concerned proposed wind farms (including projects under construction), with only five complaints relating to operating wind farms.
“While we must continuously strive for excellence, it’s clear that these levels of complaints are fairly low considering that the industry has deployed or committed to 17.6 GW of generation worth $32.7 billion since 2017,” Thornton said,
“The Commissioner has played an important role in supporting this continuous improvement effort, and we look forward to his contribution to best practice within the transmission sector, which is a vital partner of the electricity generation sector.
“A 21st-century economy needs a modern electricity network that supports reliability, security and lower emissions technologies and delivers low-cost energy to consumers.
“Upgrades in our transmission network are required urgently. Planning and development must take place in consultation with local communities to deliver outcomes that are both fair and equitable.”
Further information including the Commissioner’s role can be viewed here.