Rule Change: Completed
On 09 November 2023, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) published a final determination and more preferable final rule to enhance transmission network service providers (TNSPs) engagement with communities by:
- clarifying that TNSPs are required to engage with stakeholders, as part of preparatory activities, who are reasonably expected to be affected by the development of the actionable integrated system plan (ISP) project, future ISP project, or project within a renewable energy zone (REZ) stage. This includes local landowners, local council, local community members, local environmental groups and traditional owners.
- clarifying that these local stakeholders are considered interested parties in respect of the regulatory investment test for transmission (RIT-T) and that TNSPs are required to consult with them during the RIT-T. These stakeholders may be considered a disputing party where appropriate.
- introducing community engagement expectations which TNSPs are required to make reasonable endeavours to satisfy when engaging with these local stakeholders.
These changes create greater consistency and clarity over TNSPs’ obligations to engage with communities for ISP projects such as when and how TNSPs are required to engage.
The final rule does not apply to RIT-T projects that are not ISP projects or projects that are not under the national REZ design framework such as projects being delivered under jurisdictional frameworks because they are not governed by the NER.
It is important that communities affected by these projects are also engaged effectively. We acknowledge the complementary work being undertaken by other entities to improve community engagement and social licence building for all infrastructure projects. We encourage stakeholders to engage with these workstreams. See the Commonwealth’s website here.
Clear and consistent community engagement is important
Stakeholders’ submissions to the draft determination and the Transmission planning and investment review (TPIR) Stage 2 draft report, highlighted the importance of early, clear and consistent community engagement during planning for major transmission.
We consider that clear and consistent community engagement helps facilitate proactive and constructive relationships between TNSPs and local communities and improves the quality of planning undertaken by TNSPs for major transmission projects through the identification of risks to timely delivery.
Rule change request
On 11 April 2023, the AEMC received a rule change request from the Honourable Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy. The proposed rule change seeks to improve social licence for transmission through enhancing engagement with local communities.