AMEC targets social licence with transmission planning reform


The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released its final recommendations designed to improve the regulatory frameworks for transmission investment and planning to support efficient investment in and timely delivery of major transmission infrastructure needed to deliver new, renewable generation into the system.

The commission has recommended changes to improve the regulatory process for the major transmission projects identified in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) Integrated System Plan (ISP) in three areas, including encouraging transmission network service providers to undertake more extensive planning for major projects earlier in the development cycle.

AEMC Chair Anna Collyer said the changes will enable transmission businesses to identify potential issues in the project earlier, which will help safeguard the long-term interests of consumers during the transition to renewable energy.

“Enabling them to complete planning work earlier means they can further engage and build social licence with communities, which is vitally important to enabling the energy transformation,” Collyer said.

“Social licence activities that may be carried out sooner as a result of these recommendations include stakeholder engagement, land-use mapping, social, cultural environmental and economic risk assessments and engineering design.”

The AEMC also considers there may be opportunities to improve how the ISP and the regulatory investment test for transmission (RIT-T) process, that regulates major network investments, work with regard to projects.

In addition, the report proposes rule changes that will more explicitly consider emissions reduction in transmission planning. The AEMC is recommending a ‘harmonising’ rule change to align the national energy rules with the energy objectives once they have been revised.

Collyer said transmission plays a crucial role in enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy and the “inclusion of emissions reduction targets within national energy objectives lays the foundation for the transformation towards a carbon-neutral energy sector.”

Collyer said all of the final recommendations in the review are designed to support efficient investment in and timely delivery of large transmission infrastructure, that will be required to unlock gigawatts of renewable energy as the sector transforms.

The AEMC will host a virtual public forum on 16 May 2023 when it will set out the key findings and final recommendations of the final report.

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