A proposed change to the rules governing how electricity generators connect to the grid will help prepare the ground for the introduction of renewable energy zones.

The new AEMC draft rule clarifies how multiple parties can share the same privately owned infrastructure (like power lines) to connect to the wider transmission network and at the same time be given their own connection point. 

This allows for each connecting party to be treated individually in terms of meeting technical standards and settlement in the dispatch system and facilitates more efficient use of connection assets. 

It is a change to the existing arrangements, which allow connection assets to be shared but require all users to connect at the same point. Having multiple parties connected to the wider network at the same point can lead to difficulties with technical standards and other aspects on connection.  

“Our proposed changes make it easier for multiple parties in close proximity to each other to share assets while at the same time protecting the security of the power system,” said AEMC Acting Chair Merryn York. 

“This is helping more generators and large users connect to the grid and in effect creates mini REZs. While larger REZs will have to operate in a different way, these changes are an initial step that will introduce REZ-style thinking into the power system.

“As the energy system transforms and more generators are seeking to connect, the potential to share power system assets is increasing. So, we need to ensure this change can be accommodated. This draft rule is part of our broader work – and the Energy Security Board’s work – to keep the many moving parts of the power system up to speed with the fast-paced transition underway.” 

The proposed rule follows a request from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to review and clarify the framework governing connection assets. 

The AEMC’s draft rule, released for consultation today, changes the arrangements surrounding what are currently known as ‘dedicated connection assets’ (DCAs). 

Currently, these privately owned and operated assets are not part of the transmission network. Under the changes, while they can remain privately owned, any DCA power line over 30km long will be treated as part of the transmission network. This will require the relevant transmission network service provider (TNSP) to manage these power lines. 

However, market participants who fund these assets and who are set up in a radial – or hub and spoke – type configuration, will have special access rights. This means they will have special access protections and advance knowledge of who else wants to connect to the same power lines and where they will be located, rather than being subject to the open access arrangements that apply to the broader transmission network.

Under the changes, the assets will also be re-named as ‘designated network assets’ to distinguish them from power lines under 30km, which will remain as dedicated connection assets as already described in the rules.

Submissions to the draft determination are due by 28 January 2021.

The Energy Security Board will also shortly begin consulting on arrangements that will support the development of REZs. 

Media: Kellie Bisset, Media and Content Manager, 0438 490041 or (02) 8296 7813