Australia Pushes Reforms to Make Electricity Grids Smarter, Sustainable

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced a number of reforms intended to make electricity grids smarter and integrate solar and battery power into power production

A view of the White Cliffs solar plant in Australia. Credit: Richard Gifford from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A view of the White Cliffs solar plant in Australia. Credit: Richard Gifford from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced a number of reforms intended to make electricity grids smarter and integrate solar and battery power into power production. Power network companies will be responsible for making their businesses more efficient by digitalizing electricity grids. In addition to these measures, power network companies are also expected to make their electricity production and supply more sustainable. The reforms aim to encourage power network companies to inject small-scale solar power plants and battery power into their grids.

In addition to digitalization and adding sustainable means to producing electricity, the AEMC has introduced changes in the way power network companies govern issues of surplus power. One of the reforms includes removing the ability of companies to ban customers from sending surplus solar power back to the grid. Special credits for customers who do so have also been proposed. Another reform includes allowing the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to set the terms and conditions under which electricity networks will provide export services to customers. These terms and conditions will also govern how electricity companies will report back to the customer and the AER. The AER will also give the final approval on all power network plans.

Thanks to the reforms, AEMC foresees bills of 80% customers falling, since they will no longer have to pay for solar export services not being used by them. AEMC Chairperson, Anna Collyer said: “These new measures to drive smart solar are fundamental to enabling a modern electricity grid that delivers out to 2030 and beyond. They represent a profound change to the way poles and wires businesses must think about how they manage their network and turn the current one-way street delivering power to people’s homes into two-way super-highway where energy flows in both directions. Power network companies will need to deliver services to support solar – and they’ll be judged on their performance on how much solar exports they allow into the grid.”

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