WA looks to modernise electricity sector rules

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New legislation to modernise Western Australia’s (WA) electricity sector rules has been introduced to parliament with the state government claiming the bill will provide a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework that can better respond to the challenges and opportunities associated with the clean energy transformation.

The WA government said in a statement the current rules that govern the state’s electricity sector are nearly two decades old and are “not well suited to maintaining a secure and reliable power system or maximising the opportunities for a well-managed transition to a decarbonised energy sector.”

“The pace of Western Australia’s unprecedented energy transformation is changing the way we produce, store, and consume electricity, however, the primary legislation governing WA’s electricity sector is outdated and nearly 20-years-old,” it said.

“Changes are necessary to keep pace with a rapidly transitioning power system, adapting to the efficient integration of new technologies.”

Energy Policy WA said the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill 2023 has been designed to enable the uptake of new technologies such as rooftop solar, battery storage and electric vehicles and to support the state government’s commitment to net zero by 2050.

The bill introduces a State Electricity Objective (SEO) that the government said will minimise barriers to investment in lower-emission technologies while retaining a focus on the long-term interests of consumers with respect to the price, reliability and security of electricity.

The bill also amends the Electricity Industry Act 2004 to remove duplication, consolidating the rules and codes into the Electricity System and Market Rules (ESMR). It will also enable new technologies to support and participate in the power system.

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the bill, developed in consultation with industry and consumer representatives, will provide a flexible, responsive, and future-focused regulatory framework.

“The amendments are the next step to modernising governance arrangements, to keep pace with an electricity industry that is accelerating towards a low-emissions future,” he said.

“A new electricity objective will empower decision-makers to consider the energy trilemma – sustainability, reliability and affordability, ensuring that decisions are made for the long-term interest of all Western Australians.

“The amendments will future-proof the existing governance framework, by providing provisions to better manage and incorporate rooftop solar, battery storage, and electric vehicles.”

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