SA blackout: Energy ministers to hold snap meeting over possible national electricity market review - Jiapu Cable

SA blackout: Energy ministers to hold snap meeting over possible national electricity market review

Date2018-09-05

State and territory energy ministers are set to discuss whether to hold a review of Australia's electricity market at a snap meeting in Melbourne with the Federal Government. 

The meeting was called by Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg following last week's South Australian blackout, which resulted in a power outage across the entire state.

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There is expected to be discussion about whether a broader review into Australia's energy market is needed — a topic likely to trigger a stoush between Federal and State Governments.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said any review should be conducted by an independent panel and not by the Federal Government's energy regulators, the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Australian Energy Market Commission. 

"I'm not sure whether it should be the AEMC, maybe it should be someone a bit more independent of the current operations of the National Energy Market," he said. 

"I just wonder whether they need some fresh eyes on their system."

Mr Frydenberg said the meeting would see briefings from experts discussing the practical aspects of incorporating large-scale wind farms into the electricity grid.

"Today at COAG we will hear from experts about some of the practical issues that arise from intermittent power generation, particularly wind and solar," he said.

He said it was incumbent on the states to find a way forward and provide more security for the electricity grid.

"We do need to strengthen our system. We can't see a repeat of the lights going off either in South Australia or in other states," he said.

But Mr Koutsantonis said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should also look at his Government's own regulators to ensure they were doing enough on energy security. 

"They're barking at us to keep the lights on, well, if you read his own legislation, he'd know that actually it's the Commonwealth Government that's responsible for the Australian Energy Market Operation and the Australian Energy Market Commission and the National Electricity Market," he said.

"So, if he's saying keep the lights on and the lights aren't on, it's his fault."

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Labor-led Governments not changing energy targets.

Labor-led State and Territory Governments say they will not be changing their renewable energy targets, despite the Federal Government calling for a nationally-consistent approach.

That includes the ACT Government, which set a 100 per cent target for sourcing energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said the target enjoyed bipartisan support from the Canberra Liberals.

"So there's not even agreement on Malcolm Turnbull's own side when you look at state and territory parties when it comes to an ambitious and realistic and achievable renewable energy target," he said.

He warned any major review of the system could reveal the Federal Government regulators have not kept up with technological advances.

"Technology is rapidly changing, wind is the cheapest form of new-build generation in Australia, and globally, and the cost of solar and the emergence of battery storage in households and businesses is going to transform the electricity market," he said.

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"We need to re-write the architecture of the National Electricity Market, to prepare for these changes, and that will need more than some grandstanding on the part of Josh Frydenberg at a one-minute-to-midnight meeting."