As the COVID-19 health and economic crisis continues, Australia’s energy market bodies are working very closely together and thinking ahead on how best to protect consumers and support industry.

Rule maker AEMC, system operator AEMO and the Australian Energy Regulator are focussed on three key priorities:

  • keeping the power system resilient
  • giving industry some breathing space
  • and protecting the momentum on key market reforms to benefit consumers.

Together, the market bodies are continuing to act on prioritising regulatory work to help the energy sector ride out the pandemic.

Today we are releasing more details on our COVID-19 power plan which looks at how to ease regulatory pressure on the energy sector during this crisis.

Our draft plan is being circulated for industry feedback today so we can work with governments, consumer representatives and industry on solutions. This plan adjusts to the current reality while protecting the most important energy market reforms already underway to deliver a cheaper, fairer, lower emissions power sector for consumers.

We want to strike a balance on what work needs to continue, what can be slowed down and what can be deferred.

Our top priorities will be power system security and projects that support consumers and keep industry financially viable. To this end we have developed objectives and criteria to guide ongoing workplan priorities and rule timeframes.

But we are also insulating important, fundamental and ongoing work on the power system because we still need to keep prices down, keep the market working efficiently and transition to a low-emissions energy future.

Importantly, AEMO’s own important work on implementing the critical five-minute settlement reform will not stop. This critical market reform will reward fast-response energy generation like batteries, demand response providers and new generation gas peaker plants. But it does require a large-scale IT response by the industry and to that end the proposal is to pause requirements on industry for 12 months to take financial pressure off during this economically challenging time. This will change the start date of 1 July 2021.

Other key projects to continue are:

The bodies are meeting weekly as part of the Energy Coordination Mechanism – a group of government and industry leaders tasked by COAG to coordinate a national COVID-19 response on energy supply.

After consulting with industry, we expect to have a final COVID-19 power plan by the end of April.

John Pierce AO

AEMC Chair

More information here:

https://www.aemc.gov.au/news-centre/media-releases/progress-update-covid-19