The AEMC held two workshops with interested stakeholders on the process for connecting embedded generators under Chapter 5 of the NER.
The first workshop was held on 17 October 2013 and focussed on the timeframes and information requirements outlined in the draft rule where stakeholder submissions had identified specific concerns.
The second workshop was held on 1 November 2013 and further refined the information requirements for the proposed connection process. It also discussed the dispute resolution process and the register of technical equipment outlined in the draft rule.
Materials from these workshops have been published on the AEMC’s website.
Extension of time for making final rule determination
On 19 September 2013 the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) extended the period of time under s. 107 of the National Electricity Law in which it must make the final rule determination for the connecting embedded generators rule change request. As a result of this extension the AEMC must make its final rule determination by 19 December 2013.
The main reason for this extension of time is the issues of substance in the 21 submissions received on the draft rule determination. The main issues identified by stakeholders are:
- The interaction between the process existing in chapter 5A and our proposed new process in chapter 5.
- The size of generator that should be captured by the new process. Stakeholders raised concerns that large generators that connect to distribution networks should not be required to use a process designed for small generators.
- The workability of the proposed ‘register of compliant equipment’.
- The expert appraisal process. Concerns have been raised over the desirability of the proposed ‘independent engineer’ circuit breaker. It has been suggested that the current dispute resolution process in the rules is adequate. This will also require consideration of the dispute resolution process in chapter 5A.
In addition, the submissions provided suggestions, comments and proposed changes to most areas of the AEMC’s draft rule, including:
- The timing for each element of the two-stage process.
- The role of, and definition of, the ‘agreed project’ concept.
- Civil penalty provisions.
- The automatic right to export.
- The costs of shared network augmentation and the ‘last in, worst dressed’ provisions as they currently exist in the Rules.
- Regulatory oversight of the proposed enquiry fee.
These issues will require more time for the AEMC to analyse and evaluate potential policy solutions.
Section 108A of the NEL
On 26 July 2013, the AEMC published a short report setting out the reasons why the connecting embedded generators rule change request was not finalised within 12 months of formal commencement of the rule change process. The Commission is required to publish such a report under s. 108A of the National Electricity Law (NEL).
The final rule determination has not been made within 12 months of the publication of the notice under s. 95 of the NEL as a result of:
- the detailed and complex nature of the rule change request; and
- the nature and volume of issues raised by stakeholders during the first and second rounds of consultation on the rule change request.
Further detail on the reasons is provided within the s. 108A report.
On 18 April 2012, ClimateWorks Australia, Seed Advisory and the Property Council of Australia (the proponents) submitted a rule change request to the AEMC in relation to the process for connecting embedded generators to the distribution network under Chapter 5 of the National Electricity Rules (NER).
The proponents considered that the process under Chapter 5 is insufficiently prescriptive and results in uncertainty for connection applicants. This could lead to significant delays in projects and therefore costs to connection applicants. In addition, the proponents noted that a lack of a technical standard under the rules for embedded generators means that technical requirements can vary greatly between distributors. Further, the proponents considered that the current provisions under the NER for determining connection costs and charges are not sufficiently clear and transparent.
To address these concerns, the proponents suggested a number of amendments to the NER to: clarify timeframes and terms and conditions for connection; require the introduction of a technical standard for embedded generators; and clarify that embedded generators should not be required to contribute to shared network augmentation costs.
Some detailed aspects of the rule change request relating to information provided by distributors overlaps with issues considered under the distribution network planning and expansion framework rule change.
The rule change request included a proposed rule (although it did not include a proposed technical standard). In addition, as drafted, the proposed rule was not restricted to embedded generators and distributors. Instead, it would impact on all connection applicants and network service providers.
On 14 June 2012, the AEMC initiated the rule change process in conjunction with publication of a consultation paper to facilitate stakeholder feedback on the main issues identified by the proponents. Submissions on the first round of consultation closed on 9 August 2012. A total of 43 submissions were received.
On 18 October 2012, the AEMC extended the period of time under s. 107 of the National Electricity Law in which it must make the draft rule determination. As a result of this extension the AEMC must make its draft rule determination by 27 June 2013.
The main reason for this extension of time was the high level of engagement by a broad range of stakeholders during the first round of consultation. Consequently, a number of complex issues relating to clarification of the connection process; the technical standards applicable to connections; and the allocation of costs required consideration
In addition, a workshop was held in Sydney on 13 March 2013 to obtain stakeholder feedback on a draft connection process before including it in the draft rule.
On 27 June 2013, the AEMC published its draft rule determination and draft rule on the connecting embedded generators rule change request. Submissions on the draft rule determination closed on 8 August 2013. 21 submissions were received.View less