The Australian Energy Market Commission has made a final rule to deal with significant disturbances in power system frequency and keep the system stable and secure.

Stable frequency is an important part of maintaining a secure power system. Frequency varies whenever electricity supply does not exactly match consumer demand and uncontrolled changes in frequency can cause blackouts. 

Today’s rule introduces a mandatory obligation for generators in the national electricity market to help control system frequency by responding automatically to changes in it. 

AEMC Acting Chief Executive Suzanne Falvi said the Commission “is aware of the additional pressures being placed on the energy sector as the nation responds to the fast moving COVID-19 threat.” 

“It is important in these times that Australia’s energy systems and markets are currently operating in a safe and secure state.”

Therefore, the implementation of today’s rule change is critical in order to manage current system security concerns, she said.

The AEMC is working closely with market bodies, the Energy Security Board, jurisdictions and the energy industry on the implications of the COVID-19 threat for implementation.

Australian Energy Market Operator Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Audrey Zibelman said: “Primary frequency control is a critical security issue. Given the challenges posed by COVID-19, AEMO will work with industry on an appropriate timeline for implementation of these new obligations.”  

AEMO will develop and publish the performance parameters that generators must meet when operating their equipment in line with the primary frequency response requirement.

Generators will be able to request an exemption or variation to the performance parameters if they face excessive compliance costs or do not have the ability to provide automatic frequency response. This could apply to older wind turbines or some specialised gas turbines, amongst others. 

A near universal provision of automatic frequency response will address the immediate need for improved frequency control which has been identified by AEMO.

Today’s rule is an interim measure that will be in place for three years. 

Further work will allow the development of payment mechanisms to incentivise industry to provide frequency control. The mechanisms will encourage investment and innovation by rewarding businesses such as utility-scale batteries that can provide fast frequency response.

The AEMC will work with AEMO, the Australian Energy Regulator and the Energy Security Board on that.

This work is being progressed through the AEMC’s frequency control work plan and AEMO’s Removal of disincentives to primary frequency response rule change request as well as other potential rule change requests relevant to power system frequency. 

In 2018, the AEMC’s Frequency control frameworks review found that, in recent times, frequency performance under normal operating conditions had deteriorated and needed to be addressed. 

Media: Kellie Bisset, Media and Content Manager, 0438 490 041; (02) 8296 7813