WA ushers in major reforms to support transition on its main island grid


After years in development, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) went live on October 1 with a suite of reforms to Western Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market, or WEM. Western Australia has two major grids, one in the South which caters to the majority of the population, and another in the north, where the state’s booming mining industry is based.

The reforms seek to remove barriers to entry for renewable generators, reward the capabilities of battery storage and enable more responsive pricing and dispatch regimes. The reformed WEM will also be more competitive at matching real-time electricity demand with the lowest cost sources of generation, according to AEMO.

The changes are fairly technical, with a fact sheet on the reforms to be found here. Developed by an Energy Transformation Taskforce, consisting of AEMO, government agencies, industry and market participants, the reforms saw changes to around 80% of AEMO’s previous WEM systems, it said.

The overhaul was made because the state’s rules were no longer fit-for-purpose, AEMO’s Executive General Manager WA and Strategy, Kate Ryan, said.

“Only a decade ago, more than 90% of all electricity used in WA’s main power system was generated by burning coal and gas,” Ryan said. “Today, the wind and the sun account for around a third of our annual electricity supply, peaking at about 84%, at times.”

“AEMO’s significant reform package to the WEM lays the groundwork for an orderly transition to cleaner, more affordable and reliable electricity in the SWIS,” she added.

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