A workshop in Sydney last week brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the AEMC’s proposal for a new regulatory sandbox toolkit. The aim of the toolbox is to make it easier for businesses to develop and trial innovative energy technologies and business models.  

The workshop was attended by a wide range of stakeholders including energy retailers, start-ups, network businesses, regulators, consumer representatives and service providers. There was a robust discussion on the potential contents of the toolkit, set out in the AEMC’s draft report released in July, including:

  • a new innovation inquiry service coordinated by the Australian Energy Regulator aimed at helping innovators navigate the energy regulatory framework
  • a regulatory waiver that would allow the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to temporarily exempt trials from existing rules where this is creating a barrier 
  • a new AEMC trial rule change process that can quickly and temporarily change existing rules or temporarily introduce a new rule of limited application to allow a trial to go ahead.

Some of the key points raised during the workshop included:  

  • the importance of knowledge sharing for trials under the regulatory sandbox. It was noted that the lessons learnt from successful, as well as unsuccessful trials, were valuable to the wider industry, and it was important to balance need to share learnings against the protection of intellectual property. 
  • the importance of clarifying the eligibility requirements for accessing the different tools. This would help innovators choose the most appropriate tool for them and avoid confusion, with trial rule changes used only where waivers would be inadequate for an effective trial. 
  • the desirability of extending the regulatory sandbox to gas, as well as electricity
  • balancing consumer protections and participant consent requirements against the materiality of any impacts and the benefit of broad participation
  • the need for the regulatory waiver and trial rule change process to be as fast as possible, but with consultation so that impacted parties can raise any concerns. 

Overall, the regulatory sandbox toolkit was generally considered to be a positive development that would help support innovation in energy markets. 

Submissions on the draft report will close on 8 August 2019. A final report for the review is due to be published in late September 2019.

Media: Bronwyn Rosser, Communications Specialist, 0423 280 341; bronwyn.rosser@aemc.gov.au