The National Electricity Law sets out the key responsibilities of the Panel namely:

  • monitoring, reviewing and reporting on the safety, security and reliability of the national electricity system
  • providing advice in relation to the safety, security and reliability of the national electricity system, at the request of the AEMC.

The National Electricity Rules (NER) confers detailed functions & powers on the Panel across decision-making, advisory and monitoring and reporting tasks. It exercises these by conducting market reviews, publishing guidelines for market operation and determining power system standards based on advice from AEMO.

Reviews

The Panel conducts reviews:

Annual Market Performance Review (AMPR)

The AMPR examines the performance of the National Electricity Market (NEM) in terms of reliabilitysecurity and safety of the power system.

The Panel has been conducting this review since 2006. The review considers the performance of the NEM’s wholesale generation and bulk transmission (i.e. interconnection) sectors. A summary of the reliability performance of local transmission and distribution networks is also provided in the report. Standards relating to distribution and transmission networks are set by jurisdictions.

The Panel provides two market performance updates each financial year to complement its annual report.

Access the latest version of the AMPR.

Reliability Standard and Settings Review

Every four years the Panel is required to review the reliability standard and the reliability settings. This periodic review enables the Panel to consider whether the standards and settings remain suitable for current market arrangements and to ensure they continue to meet the requirements of the market, market participants and consumers.  

In April 2018 the Panel completed the 2018 reliability standard and settings review, which considered the standard and settings to apply in the NEM from 1 July 2020 to 1 July 2024.  The Panel recommended retaining the current levels of the reliability standard and settings as they remain appropriate to support reliability in the NEM.

In March 2020, the Panel published a short information paper and accompanying fact sheet  explaining how the reliability standard operates. This is an early, first step towards the Panel’s next statutory review of the reliability standard and settings, which must be completed by April 2022 at the latest.

Template for Generator Compliance Review

The template for generator compliance programs seeks to define “good electricity industry practice” in the management of generator plant performance and adherence to standards. The template provides certainty for generators as to what is required of their compliance programs.

Generators must develop and maintain compliance programs in line with the template.

The template was most recently reviewed in 2019, following the Generator technical performance standards rule made in October 2018, which proposed a number of changes to the technical performance standards for generators seeking to connect to the national electricity grid, and the process for negotiating those standards. The final review necessitated that the Reliability Panel review and update  the template for generator compliance programs for consistency with new access standards. The Guidelines are to be reviewed every five years.

Review of System Standards

The Panel is required to monitor, review and publish a report on the system standards in terms of whether they appropriately and adequately describe the expected technical performance conditions of the power system.

The system standards are set out in Schedule 5.1a of the NER and include the frequency operating standards. 

Guidelines

The Panel also produces a number of guidelines to assist AEMO to perform its power system security and reliability functions:

Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) guidelines

The RERT is a mechanism in the National Electricity Rules that allows AEMO to contract for reserves ahead of a period where AEMO projects there to be a reserve shortfall. A projected reserve shortfall is where the amount of generation, interconnector and demand response capacity is projected to be below the level consistent with the reliability standard.

The Panel is required to develop and publish guidelines which provide guidance for AEMO in its procurement and operation of the RERT. 

The latest version of the guidelines were made in August 2020 to reflect the implementation of a temporary out of market capacity reserve, called the Interim Reliability Reserve, the rules for which were recommended and approved by Energy Ministers in August 2020. 

Principles and Guidelines for Maintaining Power System Security

The Panel is required to develop and publish principles and guidelines that determine how AEMO should maintain power system security. These principles must take into account the costs and benefits to the extent practicable.

To date the Panel has not determined a need for any principles or guidelines for maintaining power system security.

Guidelines for Intervention by AEMO for the Provision of Reserves

The Panel is required to determine guidelines governing AEMO’s exercise of power to issue directions in connection with maintaining or re-establishing the power system in a reliable operating state.

If there is a major supply shortfall in the NEM, AEMO must implement any necessary involuntary load shedding in an equitable manner, and in accordance with the guidelines established by the Panel as part of the power system security and reliability standards.

In December 2009, the Panel published guidelines for the management of electricity supply shortfall events.

System Operating Incident Guidelines

The Panel is required to determine guidelines for identifying reviewable operating incidents, which AEMO uses the guidelines as a basis for determining whether to review a power system incident.

The latest of these guidelines were set in April 2013.

Guidelines for AEMO’s power system frequency reviews 

If the Panel considers it necessary or desirable it may determine guidelines for power system frequency reviews conducted by AEMO.

To date the Panel has not determined any guidelines for power system frequency reviews.

Standards

The Panel also publishes standards governing how the power system operates in certain circumstances.

System Restart Standard

When determining the level of restart services to be procured, the Panel is required to consider how best to minimise the impacts of a major blackout for consumers, taking the national electricity objective into account.

The Panel recently reviewed the system restart standard to account for changes made in the AEMC’s final rule on System restart services, standards and testing, which made changes to the frameworks for power system restoration to make them better suited to the changing generation mix. The revised standard was published in October 2021.

The Panel is currently reviewing Standard targets for AEMO’s procurement of system restart ancillary services in Queensland, following AEMO’s determination to combine the existing North and South Queensland sub-networks into a single sub-network for the entire Queensland region.

Performance standards

The Panel is required to publish a report on the implementation of automatic access standards and minimum access standards as performance standards.

In April 2009 the Panel completed a Technical Standards Review which included reviewing:

  • the automatic access standards and minimum access standards;
  • individual technical standards; and
  • the interaction between the system, access and plant-specific standards as a whole.

The Commission completed the Generator technical performance standards rule change in October 2018, which proposed a number of changes to the technical performance standards for generators seeking to connect to the national electricity grid, and the process for negotiating those standards.

Power system security standards

The Panel is required to review and determine standards that govern the security of the power system.

The only Power system security standards that are active under the National Electricity Rules are the Frequency operating standard for the Mainland and Tasmania.

In March 2017 the Panel commenced the most recent Review of the frequency operating standard for Tasmania and the mainland, with a final determination published in April 2019. It is expected that the Panel will review the frequency operating standard in late 2021.

Plant standards

A Registered Participant, AEMO or interested party may request the Panel to determine whether an existing Australian or international standard may be adopted as a plant standard for a particular class of plant. To date, no party has requested the Panel to determine this.

Other responsibilities

Determination of protected events

A protected event is a low likelihood, high consequence non-credible contingency event for which AEMO must maintain the power system security standards, including the frequency operating standards, following the occurrence of the event. 

The Panel is responsible for determining any protected events following the request for such a determination by AEMO. 

The Panel assessed a request from AEMO to declare the risk from South Australia's power system from destructive winds as a protected event. This was the first request for the declaration of a protected event which had been received by the Panel.