The AEMC has consolidated two rule change requests from Dr Kerry Schott AO, Chair of the Energy Security Board, to streamline the regulatory process for three priority projects identified in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan.

The inaugural Integrated System Plan, published in July 2018, forecasts where and when network investment needs to happen to support the large amount of new generation connecting to the grid in the coming years.  

The plan has a list of priority transmission projects which includes minor upgrades to the interconnectors joining QLD-NSW and VIC-NSW. The Energy Security Board considers these upgrades should be done before the likely retirement of the Liddell generator in NSW in 2022.

The plan also states that a new interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales (Project EnergyConnect), subject to the necessary approvals being received, should be built by the mid-2020s enabling connection of large amounts of renewable energy and improving resilience for South Australia. 

To meet these timeframes, Dr Schott has proposed amendments to the National Electricity Rules to reduce the time between the completion of the cost-benefit assessment (known as the regulatory investment test or RIT-T) for these projects, and when the Australian Energy Regulator makes its determination on whether the transmission businesses can recover the cost of the projects in two separate rule change requests.

As the two rule change requests seek to streamline the same regulatory process, but for different projects, the Commission has consolidated them and they will be considered as a single rule change request. 

Submissions on the consolidated rule change proposal are due by 21 March 2019. Note that submissions already made by stakeholders to the earlier rule change request will still count as submissions to the consolidated rule change request. 

As the AEMC considers this to be a non-controversial rule change proposal, and no objections have been received to either request prior to consolidation, we are proceeding under an expedited process, with a final rule due in April 2019.

This rule change request is part of the AEMC’s recommended reforms to the transmission framework set out in our final report for the Coordination of generation and transmission investment review published in December 2018.