A new AEMC rule will encourage investment in, and better use of, transmission infrastructure by making it easier for generators to share assets such as power lines. It is expected investment in transmission infrastructure will become more attractive to developers and investors as the new rule enables sharing of transmission assets as well as connection costs. 

In a win-win, investors may recoup costs while shared access makes connection costs lower for generators than under the existing rules. The new approach is also likely to support additional generators joining the network, typically those using renewable energy, who will find the shared costs and greater flexibility appealing.

The new rule comes into effect on 22 July 2021 and will apply to ‘material additions to the network’ - usually these are transmission lines of 30 kilometres or longer that send power to the shared network. Investors in assets less than 30km long may also opt into the new framework.

Under the existing rules these transmission lines are classified as ‘connection assets’, which are different from the network. As a result, under the status quo there can only ever be one connection point where the line joins the wider transmission network. This single connection point has created obstacles when multiple generators have sought to share assets, because they had to agree on one set of technical performance standards, a joint bidding strategy, share one transmission loss factor, and more. This effectively prevented multiple parties from sharing and led to under-usage of the existing infrastructure and a disincentive to invest in new infrastructure. With the new rule, these assets will be treated as part of the network, allowing the creation of multiple connection points so multiple generators can connect using their individual settings. 

Although part of the network, a special access regime continues to apply in these circumstances so that the owner of the asset can control third party access to its asset. This will encourage investment from ‘first movers’ and is different from the rest of the network, where open access applies. The special access regime is limited to assets that are radial extensions of the network - they cannot be looped or meshed.

The new arrangements also enhance power system security and reliability, creating a single point of accountability for power system security and ensuring all material additions to the network are visible to the primary transmission network service provider for planning and operation purposes.

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Media: Kellie Bisset M: 0438 490041