Rule Change: Completed
The AEMC has published its final determination on a rule change request from Western Power relating to alternatives to grid-supplied network services. The AEMC has determined not to make a rule.
The rule change request sought to remove what Western Power considered to be a regulatory barrier to distributors providing off-grid supply to remote consumers in place of replacing or maintaining the network assets through which those consumers were previously supplied.
Off-grid supply includes individual power systems, which supply electricity to one customer, and microgrids, which supply electricity to more than one customer, where there is no physical connection to the national grid.
Western Power proposed changes to the definition of "distribution service" in the National Electricity Rules so that off-grid supply could be provided by distributors in place of part of a distribution system is a distribution service. The intention was that this change would allow distributors to provide electricity via individual power systems or microgrids and receive regulated returns for these services (depending on how the Australian Energy Regulator classifies the service).
Reasons for not making a rule
The AEMC supports enabling off-grid supply but considers that a broader package of changes to laws, rules and state and territory instruments is required to protect consumers.
A change to the National Electricity Rules (NER) alone could not address a lack of customer protections for off-grid customers and may be invalid due to inconsistencies with the National Electricity Law (NEL).
The final determination sets out recommendations regarding a package of changes to enable efficient off-grid supply, for consideration as the COAG Energy Council progresses its work in this area.