Rule Changes: Open

Alternatives to grid-supplied network services

Reference:
ERC0215
Stage:
Consultation on request for rule change
Proponents:
Western Power
Project Leader:
Lily Mitchell
Date initiated:
14-Jun-2017
Overview

The AEMC has published a consultation paper on a rule change request from Western Power relating to alternatives to grid-supplied network services. Submissions are due by 18 July 2017.

The AEMC has published a consultation paper on a rule change request from Western Power relating to alternatives to grid-supplied network services. Submissions are due by 18 July 2017.

The rule change request seeks to remove what Western Power considers to be a regulatory barrier to distributors providing off-grid supply to remote consumers in place of replacing or maintaining the network assets through which those consumers were previously supplied.

Western Power argues that in some locations, it would be cheaper to provide off-grid supply than to maintain and replace long power lines linking remote customers to the national grid. Western Power also states that moving to off-grid supply could potentially offer additional benefits such as improved reliability for remote customers and reduced bushfire risks.

Proposed rule change

Western Power proposes changes to the definition of "distribution service" in the National Electricity Rules to ensure off-grid supply provided by distributors in place of part of a distribution system is a distribution service. The intention is that this change would allow distributors to provide electricity via individual power systems or microgrids and receive regulated returns for these services (depending on how the Australian Energy Regulator classifies the service).

Consultation

The rule change request raises several complex legal and policy issues. Some of these issues are also currently under consideration by the COAG Energy Council in its consultation on stand-alone power systems.

The consultation paper aims to facilitate public consultation on the rule change request by seeking stakeholder submissions on specific issues, including the costs and benefits of off-grid supply, competition issues, consumer protection issues and potential alternatives to the proposed rule. 

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Documentation