Media Release: Industry Experts Ask "Where is Frydenberg?"

8.29am | February 21, 2017

Senator Jenny McAllister, Deputy Chair Senate Select Committee on the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World, Senator for New South Wales

Senator Anne Urquhart, Senator for Tasmania

Australia’s National Electricity Market is suffering because of a lack of federal leadership, a Senate committee was told yesterday in Adelaide. Industry representatives and energy system experts testified before the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World that the current policy settings keep Australia stuck in the past.

The committee heard that:
• AEMO could have avoided the loading shedding event in South Australia on 8 February if it acted on information it had and did more than just rely on market signals.
• Current market rules and standards shut out many renewable and storage technologies.
• Distribution and transmission asset owners don’t have guidance from the AER on what they are allowed to do to protect their assets against the increased risk of severe weather events from climate change.

The Deputy Chair of the Committee, Senator McAllister, said: “All these problems point to a Minister who sees energy as a talking point, not a policy priority. Australia’s energy system is undergoing a transformation from the technologies of the 50s, to a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable grid. The Minister should be guiding this transformation, not lobbying for a coal generator no one wants to fund.”

Witnesses emphasised that the absence of a clear federal plan was discouraging new investment.

Senator Urquhart said: “At every hearing, our committee is being told that the government’s failure to articulate a clear plan is driving investors away. This can only negatively impact prices, reliability, jobs and the transformation that’s needed.”

“The uncertainty about how Australia will meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions means no one feels at all confident to make an investment in the future.”