Think-tank powers ahead with ideas for Sydney’s future electricity supply

A meeting of minds has exchanged ideas on the best ways to ensure the reliable future electricity supply for Sydney.

TransGrid hosted its first Powering Sydney’s Future forum in June, where almost 100 representatives and experts from a wide range of stakeholders discussed the pressing issue.

The gathering included consumer advocacy groups, academics, government representatives, regulators, large energy users, infrastructure organisations and energy providers.

TransGrid’s inner Sydney network supplies electricity to more than half a million households and businesses. However, parts of the existing network have been identified as approaching the end of their service life.

To ensure the continued safe, reliable and efficient supply of electricity to inner Sydney, a solution will soon be needed.

Among the delegates there was a concerted call for an overhaul of regulatory framework to provide incentives to electricity networks, for non-network alternatives.

City of Sydney green infrastructure senior program manager Peter Coombes focused on the issue of local generation and told delegates regulatory framework had to adapt to manage technological change.

“Not adapting will take consumers off the grid, stranding assets and increasing costs for everyone else – regulation must work for all,” he said.

“Change is going to happen and it will be a good outcome for the community. There’s a need to change but the regulators need to be told how the rules should change.”

TransGrid’s general manager of strategy and stakeholder engagement Greg Garvin said, due to the significance of the project and its location, TransGrid and Ausgrid are working closely together to achieve a co-ordinated and cost-effective solution.

“This think-tank has been invaluable in providing us the opportunity to consider a range of alternative initiatives and move toward a new way of thinking and planning to meet Sydney’s electricity needs,” he said.

As part of the early engagement, five key initiatives were identified and evaluated, helping TransGrid understand the potential role they could play in addressing the future energy needs for the inner Sydney area: network planning; energy efficiency; reliability standards; local generation; and demand response.

Following the early engagement phase, TransGrid will continue to communicate and engage with stakeholders and the community to review and finalise options until a decision is made on any future investment. This will include opportunities for formal feedback through the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) process and further community engagement throughout the environmental investigations/ approvals. TransGrid will also issue a request for proposals to the market for demand response later this year and facilitate a demand management workshop.