The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy has released a report into its inquiry into modernising Australia’s electricity grid, which is a consensus, cross-party report on a highly contested policy area.
Like many countries around the world, the electricity system in Australia is in a period of rapid transition, driven by changes in the generation mix, new technologies, the development of government policies aimed at reducing emissions, and changes in how consumers interact with the system. This period of transition presents both challenges and opportunities, from improving the security, reliability, and affordability of the electricity supply, to contributing to Australia’s emission reduction commitments.
The Committee Chair, The Nationals, Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, said that “modernising the electricity grid is a big project for a big country. Whilst there is a plethora of views on what is the best way forward, this Committee took a cross-party approach to the issues and was determined to rise above the political fray and work in the national interest”.
Mr Broad said that “the Committee sought to make recommendations that cover a range of concerns including generation, better planning, transmission and distribution networks, updating market rules and resolving policy uncertainty.
“The report canvasses important issues and makes timely recommendations that seek to ensure that Australia is not left behind in the electricity revolution that is occurring all around us.”
The Committee Deputy Chair, ALP member for shortland, Pat Conroy MP, said that “a clear theme in the evidence to inquiry was that policy uncertainty, particularly regarding emissions reduction, has affected investment in the electricity sector. The Committee considers that resolving policy uncertainty would be of enormous value”.
As part of the inquiry, the Committee had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of stakeholders from each of the mainland states in the National Electricity Market, providing them with the opportunity to learn about the different needs of consumers across the electricity grid.
The Committee also witnessed firsthand how other countries are dealing with the challenge of grid modernisation when four of the members of the Committee travelled to Germany and the US.