NSW & QLD stand against reforms that could help keep prices down for consumers

The Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales are standing in the way of reforms that the Australian Energy Regulator says will help put a lid on network costs and keep prices down for consumers.

Queensland, which retains its networks, and New South Wales, which will retain most of its while it leases some, have both resisted abolishing the limited merits review, a move designed to prevent network owners from automatically challenging AER decisions on network spending.

According to the official release from the COAG Energy Council, the country’s energy ministers could not reach a consensus on abolishing the LMR, even though they did agree that the arrangements were failing and that immediate reform was required.

The communique did claim progress on efforts to streamline the consideration of new interconnectors and reduce costs for gas users, by forcing quarrelling parties in the gas industry – pipeline owners and suppliers – to go to arbitration. This was a recommendation from the review by Michael Vertigo.

Improvements will be made to the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission to ensure high-impact, low-probability events, like the South Australian blackout are taken into account and to ensure the consideration process is more streamlined.

Of greater interest, however, was a 45-minute briefing and discussion hosted by chief scientist Alan Finkel on his review of energy security. According to those present, it included a major focus on storage, both in the possibilities of pumped hydro identified by the ANU and on battery storage in homes and businesses.

Finkel said the cost of battery storage was falling so quickly it was unlikely to need any subsidies, although South Australia and ACT have provided some initial incentives to kick start the deployment, and network owners and retailers are also providing incentives for various storage trials.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said it was agreed by the COAG Energy Council to “fast-track for consideration in February additional measures to strengthen the National Electricity Market responding to security and reliability issues identified in his preliminary report.”

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Image Via:  RenewEconomy.com.au

Giles Parkinson