The Australian Energy Market Commission has made a new rule that requires large electricity generators to provide at least three years’ notice before closing. The rule is based on one of the recommendations in the Finkel Panel review.
Unexpected generator exits, like the recent closure of Hazelwood power station in Victoria, can lead to a sudden increase in wholesale electricity prices. To help avoid this, the new rule requires generators with scheduled or semi-scheduled generating units to give the Australian Energy Market Operator at least three years’ notice of an intention to close, and regularly update AEMO about any changes.
This information will help market participants respond to possible future shortfalls in electricity generation, for example by building replacement capacity.
AEMO must consider and include information about generator exits as part of its annual long-term forecast process - the Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO). An up-to-date list of expected closure dates for generating units will be available on AEMO’s website.
If a closure is likely to have a significant effect on system reliability in the short or medium term, AEMO will be required to publish an interim Electricity Statement of Opportunities report that considers the impact of the closure on overall system supply.
The AEMC has recommended new civil penalties, enforced by the Australian Energy Regulator, if generators fail to comply with the new obligations.
The rule includes an additional role for the AEMC’s Reliability Panel that gives the Panel discretion to identify specific scenarios when energy shortages could arise. AEMO must then consider these scenarios and their impact on generation adequacy when preparing its Energy Adequacy Assessment Projection reports.
To support implementation of the new rule, the AER will be required to develop a guideline by 31 August 2019 specifying how generators should provide information about closures to AEMO, and when exemptions may apply. In the meantime, generators can voluntarily provide information about closures to AEMO.
This rule change request is part of the Commission’s broader system security and reliability work program.
Media: Bronwyn Rosser, Communications Specialist, (02) 8296 7847; 0423 280 341; firstname.lastname@example.org
This rule change request was submitted by Dr Kerry Schott AO, the Chair of the Energy Security Board.
The request is a recommendation of the Finkel Review as part of a policy package to achieve an orderly transition to a low emissions future. It recommended putting in place notice of closure requirements for large generators to help manage the retirement of existing coal-fired generators as they reach the end of their economic lives. This would provide time for replacement capacity to be built and for affected communities to plan for change.
The AEMC’s final rule is a more preferable rule as it:
- requires generators to provide information to AEMO through the registration and Electricity Statement of Opportunities reporting processes, instead of issuing weekly updates through the Medium Term Projected Assessment of System Adequacy reporting process. This will make the new rule cheaper and faster to implement as it requires fewer changes to AEMO’s data systems.
- requires the AER to develop a guideline detailing how the rule and penalties for non-compliance will be applied. This provides more regulatory flexibility, rather than trying to cover all possible circumstances in the rules.