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COAG gets energy ball rolling

17 July 2017 , , ,

Last week’s meeting of the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Energy Council meeting saw a number of policy measures to ensure Australia’s energy supply.

In what is good news for the gas industry, the Federal Government will begin working with states and territories prepared to develop their own gas through the new $26 million Gas Acceleration Program (GAP) to fast track new gas to the east coast market.

“Through the GAP we’re looking to encourage investment in projects that can bring new gas to the east coast market in the next three years,” said Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

GAP will offer up to $6 million for each new gas project with substantiated prospects of producing gas into markets within three years, which could include:

  • The application of new technologies or techniques to boost productivity of new or existing wells
  • New gas exploration wells in proximity to existing gas infrastructure
  • New gas processing, storage and transport facilities.

Combined Federal and State Government funding will be capped at 50 per cent of total project costs, and grants will be delivered through the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) framework via bilateral or multilateral agreements.

“We are working with States and Territories to implement this program and to identify potential projects that can bring new gas to market by 2020,” said Minister Canavan.

“The grant program will be open to all States and Territories, however, the Government will not spend taxpayers’ money in those jurisdictions that can’t show us a pathway to gas development because of bans and moratoria.

Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg had some select words to say about Victoria and the Northern Territory in an article in the Australian Financial Review today.

“The question has to be asked of Victoria and the Northern Territory: if it’s good enough for the Labor states of Queensland and South Australia to do the right thing and develop their unconventional gas resources, why not them?” wrote the Minister.

“Surely the answer is that Queensland and SA don’t think anything less of their regional communities, but rather have managed those interests in a more evidence-based and effective way.”

Wider reforms

At the meeting held in Brisbane on Friday last week, COAG agreed to immediately act on 49 of the 50 recommendations of Dr Alan Finkel’s Independent Review in the Future Security of the National Electricity Market.

Key recommendations which the Energy Council agreed to include:

  • A new Generator Reliability Obligation which will require intermittent sources of generation to provide an appropriate level of backup to guard against blackouts;
  • The introduction of Energy Security Obligations to provide the necessary support services (Frequency Control and Ancillary Services and inertia) to intermittent sources of generation;
  • A new requirement for large generators to give a minimum of three years notice before closing; and,
  • The establishment of an Energy Security Board to oversee the health, security and reliability of the National Electricity Market.

Also at the meeting the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) outlined its plan for this summer, which will see the market operator with the ability to contract for more supply to make sure there is no shortfall.

Following an update from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on its review into retail electricity prices, the Energy Council agreed to provide greater transparency on the price and availability of long-term electricity retail contracts as well as to give consumers greater real time control over their energy consumption.