A reform to the National Electricity Market making it easier to connect distributed generation to the grid has commenced.
The rule change, put forward by the Property Council of Australia, ClimateWorks and Seed Advisory, means that large embedded energy systems – including solar, trigeneration and wind – can now be connected to the grid more quickly and cheaply.
From today (Wednesday), distribution network service providers will be required to provide better information to consumers about the process for connecting embedded energy systems to the grid, including standardised forms and information packs including technical standards, costs, application details, time frames for each stage of the connection process and a model connection agreement.
This information will make the production of feasibility assessments easier and less expensive, a previous barrier to connecting embedded generation.
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“If properly implemented, this reform should help overcome one of the long standing barriers to cleaner energy investments in the property sector – namely excessively long, costly and uncertain processes for connecting cleaner energy assets to the electricity grid,” ClimateWorks executive director Anna Skarbek said.
As a result of the reform, more connections should be approved within a 6-12 month timeframe.
The new rule assures:
- A clear map of and guidance on the new connection process
- Time bounded connection stages (where previously they were open-ended)
- No “stop the clock” option for electricity network companies to consult third parties. (beforehand they could stop the clock without time restrictions during the connection application stage)
- Standardised forms by electricity network companies to cut down applicants’ “green tape”
- Information packs by electricity network companies, including technical standards, costs, application details, timing and a model connection agreement, allowing applicants to produce early feasibility assessments with little expense
- Location specific network information by electricity network companies, helping applicants find out early where potential “no go” zones are
- Registers of completed projects with details of previously connected equipment by electricity network companies for systems larger than five megawatts, making it easier for applicants to identify opportunities and examples of what has been approved
- A more balanced set of mutual obligations, including a description of applicants’ and electricity network companies’ obligations
- A clearer dispute resolution process to be used if parties cannot agree
- More time and flexibility (20 days with option to extend) for applicants to accept electricity network companies’ offers, whereas in the past, applicants had 2-3 days to comb through extensive comb through extensive contracts