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The Energy Ministers and Climate Change Ministerial Council (ECMC) met in the Northern Territory to create a new Energy Advisory Panel as well as discuss energy price relief, energy reliability, the First Nations’ energy transition and workforce concerns. 

The Energy Ministers Sub-Group (EMSG) of the ECMC  announced the transition to a new operating mode of governance with the disbanding of the Energy Security Board (ESB), to be replaced by a new Energy Advisory Panel.  

The change means ministers and government departments will now be responsible for energy policy development and, following the May Federal Budget, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water will be funded to do its job.

The Energy Advisory Panel will include the heads of the three energy market bodies and the ACCC Energy Commissioner as an observer – allowing consideration of gas supply, retail markets and consumer protections issues. 

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) will work collaboratively with the Federal Government and the newly established Energy Advisory Panel to accelerate the deployment of clean energy to put downward pressure on electricity prices, reduce emissions and meet clean federal and state renewable energy targets.

The Panel will commence its work from July 1.

Within the meeting, the EMSG said with energy reliability continuing to be a key concern, providing the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) with more resources to ensure more projects can be connected to the grid ahead of the summer months is a priority. 

Grid connection and network access are the top concerns of clean energy investors going back to 2019. The meeting outcomes will build on the work of the Connections Reform Initiative, a collaborative effort led by the CEC and AEMO to get more clean energy connected, more quickly.

The CEC said it was pleased to see the focus of the ECMC on First Nations partnership and involvement in the clean energy transition. The CEC said it is developing a best practice engagement plan, in collaboration with the First Nations Clean Energy Network (FNCEN), for industry based on the First Nations-led ten principles for First Nations engagement with the clean energy transition.

The Smart Energy Council also welcomed the decision to abolish the ESB – a body that it said has long stifled the progress of renewable energy in Australia.  

The Smart Energy Council said that the ESB assisted in developing both CoalKeeper and SolarStopper, attempts under the former Federal Government to both fund coal-fired power stations to operate longer than necessary and to stifle investment in large-scale renewables.

The Smart Energy Council said abolishing the ESB is the smart choice in the renewable energy transition and race to net zero. 

The EMSG welcomed the latest evidence that the Energy Price Relief Plan is putting downward pressure on east coast wholesale gas and electricity prices which is expected to translate to a significantly lower increase in household and business energy bills in 2023-24 than would have otherwise occurred.

The group also welcomed the Federal investments in the Hydrogen Headstart Budget initiative aimed at catalysing Australia’s clean energy industries, and “agreed to work together to make Australia a renewable energy superpower, including through the refresh of the National Hydrogen Strategy which will begin consultation before the next ECMC meeting”. 

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