Ministers turn focus to consumer solar, batteries, EVs – and developer ratings

The huge role of consumer energy resources, and the importance of social licence, topped the agenda at the latest energy ministers meeting.

The huge role of rooftop solar and other consumer energy resources remains at the top of the political agenda in Australia, with the latest meeting of state and federal energy ministers promising to better protect and support households and businesses in their vital role in the transition to renewables.

A communique from the meeting in Sydney on Friday says the ministers committed to undertaking reforms through a National Consumer Energy Resources Roadmap that will deliver new consumer protections and allow consumers to export more solar to the grid.

The reforms will also aim to establish “nationally consistent standards” to optimise key technologies like vehicle to grid chargers, as the uptake of electric vehicles gains momentum around the country.

“These reforms will put downward pressure on both consumers’ bills and overall system costs, as well as contributing to emissions reduction and broadening access to CER across communities,” the communique says.

“Reforms in each of these areas are already underway, including streamlining connection processes, making Service and Installation Rules nationally consistent, and establishing standards and a regulatory framework for CER.

“The Commonwealth, state and territory governments are working with market bodies to progress these reforms through a dedicated taskforce that will be supported by a stakeholder reference group.”

The report from the meeting says senior officials have been tasked with providing a National CER Roadmap and implementation plan for reforms identified in the work plan, for consideration at the next meeting in July.

The impact of extreme weather on electricity supply – most recently exemplified by the storms in Victoria that left hundreds of thousands of customers without power – was also on the agenda, with ministers asking the Australian Energy Regulator to extend its current review of the Value of Customer Reliability to establish a value of customer resilience associated with long duration outages.

On the vexed subject of community engagement, the ministers agreed to consider actions to address the recommendations of the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner’s recent report, which found evidence of a “material distrust” of renewable energy project developers and, in particular, developers of major new grid transmission projects.

In particular, the ministers said they would prioritise the report’s recommendation to establish a national developer ratings scheme.

“Industry, peak bodies, consumer groups and other stakeholders will be invited to participate in a reference group to contribute to the design of the scheme,” the ministers said on Friday.

This article was first published on RenewEconomy. You can read it here.

Sophie Vorrath
Editor, One Step Off the Grid
April 18, 2024
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