Smaller generators will not need to be scheduled in the national electricity market under a draft determination from the Australian Energy Market Commission released today. 

However, the draft decision does make changes to the type of information the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) provides the market on whether to schedule or exempt generators.

Today’s draft determination follows a request from the Australian Energy Council (AEC) to lower the threshold for scheduling generators to include 5-30MW generators. The request to change the rules was based on concerns that if there was a rapid in increase in the number of smaller, largely renewable generators, this would challenge AEMO’s ability to efficiently manage the power system.

Non-scheduled generation has only grown by 1.1% as a proportion of total generation capacity since 2010. The Commission found that the significant costs to connect and register a scheduled plant ranged from $1.3-1.8million, with ongoing costs from $150,000 to $550,000 per year – and this could represent a barrier for smaller generators.

AEMC Chair Anna Collyer said that In terms of new generation, the growth of small-scale solar PV is a more pressing issue for AEMO because of its impact on levels of minimum demand. 

"The Commission is already looking at better ways to integrate small-scale solar on the distribution network so that we can get the grid future ready - we're dealing with that important issue through our distributed energy access and pricing reforms," Ms Collyer said.

"When it comes to the transmission network, there will be another avenue for dealing with any potential impact of larger numbers of small generators in the future. Work is under way as part of the Energy Security Board’s (ESB’s) post 2025 market reforms to consider a 
voluntary ‘scheduled lite’ model for smaller generators. This, combined with work on creating a two-sided energy market will be valuable tools for AEMO’s management of non-scheduled generators."

The draft determination released today also makes minor amendments to the rules to improve certainty and efficiency in both the connection process and generator technical performance standards. 

It clarifies the conditions under which AEMO must approve non-scheduled generating unit classifications and codifies what it already does in practice, by requiring AEMO to update and publish its Guide to generator exemptions and classification of generating units. 

The draft determination will be open for submissions until 19 August 2021. Read more on the project page.