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The Clean Energy Council has sent a rule change request to the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to support investors and developers undertaking grid connections. 

The proposed change seeks to address costly delays and complexity that have affected renewable projects in the past, with the goal of supporting faster connection of renewables, lowering prices, and improving power supply for consumers.

The Clean Energy Council and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) have been working with networks and a wide collaboration of industry leaders to improve the connection process as part of the Connections Reform Initiative. The Clean Energy Council and its members have initiated this proposed rule change.

In early 2020, Clean Energy Council members, NSPs and other industry stakeholders were brought together to form the Connections Reform Initiative to address concerns with the delays and the increasing complexity of connections.

The Connections Reform Initiative is hoping to achieve:

  • A consistent and predictable connections process that delivers repeatable outcomes
  • Reduce rework and improve efficiency and quality of information
  • Create a collaborative working model between industry, AEMO and the NSPs

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said its proposal would give clarity to a process that historically has created serious delays for renewable investors and developers.

“Every Australian has a stake in getting this right and helping bring clean, affordable new power generation to the grid efficiently,” Mr Thornton said.

“Currently, some generators have faced open-ended delays to connection and unmanageable risks, creating a culture of uncertainty for renewable investors.

“If this adds to cost, if this causes delays, if this discourages investment, then it is Australian homes and businesses that ultimately will suffer when it comes time to pay their power bills.”

The initiative addresses serious concerns over costly delays and complexity that have affected a number of projects connecting to the grid. 

Head of Australia, Mint Renewables, Peter Cowling, said, “The connection process has been crying out for reform. These proposed changes are a response to that, arising from a long collaborative process involving hundreds of people from right across the industry. 

“They are exciting because they demonstrate what we can do when we work together with a common goal. We will need to do a lot more problem-solving like this to achieve a rapid and just transition.” 

Clean Energy Council Policy Director of Market, Grid & Investment, Christiaan Zuur, said the group is focused on improving the clarity of the rules and procedures around the registration stages of the connection process.

“Our overall aim is to make the connection process for new utility-scale renewable generation and storage work better for everyone involved,” Mr Zuur said.

“It’s been a real eye-opener in terms of demonstrating a different way to make change in the National Electricity Market. Goodwill from AEMO, networks and industry has allowed us to work as equals and find common sense solutions to previously intractable problems.”

Learn more about the proposed changes by the Clean Climate Council here or the Connections Reform Initiative here

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