27 June 2013 — The AEMC has today (Thursday) released its draft rule determination on proposed changes to how embedded generators connect to the grid, and it seems most of the proponents’ requests have been dismissed.

The rule change request was initially put forward by the Property Council of Australia, ClimateWorks and Seed Advisory, who argued the current process was too onerous and was stopping trigen systems from being connected to the grid.

The initial rule change request proposed the following:

  • Providing an automatic right of connection to the grid and standard access terms
  • Enabling embedded generators a right to export electricity to the grid
  • Allowing distributors to charge an optional fee-for-service to promote collaboration with proponents during the connection process
  • Obliging distributors to publish annual network reports identifying where capacity is limited

The draft determination seems to reject most of the proponents’ requests.

Instead, the draft rule requires distributors to publish an “information pack” for detailing the technical standards, costs, application details and timing of an embedded generation connection request.

Projects that didn’t require network augmentation would also be fast-tracked, with distributors having to respond to a connection enquiry within 30 business days, otherwise it could take up to four months.

Under a revised connection application process, for “agreed projects” a distributor would be required to make a connection offer within 20 business days.

No automatic right of connection, standard access terms or automatic right to export electricity to the grid were granted.

The AEMC said the rule change would allow the distribution network to “continue adapting to change while maintaining the reliability of local power supply networks for all consumers”.

They said the rule would clarify the responsibilities for both connecting businesses and distributors under the connection process.

“It seeks to provide embedded generators with the information they need to prepare their business case for developments,” AEMC’s statement said.

AEMC chief executive Steven Graham said it was important to provide a framework for efficient investment and cost-effective outcomes while maintaining security and reliability.

“This draft determination seeks to facilitate efficient network and generation investment and operation so consumers do not pay more than necessary for electricity,” he said.

“We are seeking to expand regulatory certainty and clarity in relation to connecting small to medium generators to distribution networks so that sound commercial decisions can be made by all participants.”

AEMC said this draft rule was a “more preferred” rule than the proponents’ suggestion, and that it would balance “the reliable and efficient operation of the grid with a clear connection process for embedded generators”.

Interested stakeholders are invited to provide submissions on the draft rule determination and draft rule by 8 August 2013.