The SA Government has announced that it will soon release a statement about how it is going to deal with the state’s electricity concerns. We have identified 12 measures that are all able to be implemented and would make a positive impact, some for immediate action, others would take a bit longer to have impact.

SA Electricity Announcement – suggestions

Direction

I’d like to think that it was possible for the Premier and Minister to announce a policy direction where future South Australian electricity is both cheaper than it is now and generated mainly from renewable energy. SA as world leaders in the integration of renewable energy into supply with a competitive advantage for industry having cheaper energy as a driver for economic activity.

Cheaper AND Greener

I’m convinced this direction is achievable in the medium term, and would send a clear signal of government policy intent that will support investment in new generation, storage and grid integration. I’m certain you aware of businesses that see future in renewable generation in the state as a worthwhile investment, given some certainty of policy intent.

Possible actions with short term impact.

  1. Announce the outcomes of the South Australian Government electricity supply tender process. (of course)
  2. Re-establish retail price regulation for South Australia, setting a price cap for residential and small business prices, for a limited period until there was greater certainty for consumers, in such and market. (tough but fair at the moment)
  3. Ensure that household customers who are eligible for concessions, and who switch providers for a better deal, have their concession seamlessly transferred to their new retailer. (the current system is unhelpful and results in very long delays for struggling households who do switch)
  4. Setting revised frequency and energy supply standards that AEMO must comply with for the South Australian wholesale market.(done already, in part)
  5. Set a domestic gas reservation requirement, for a limited number of years, to be hypothecated for electricity generation

Processes to support SA consumer outcomes

  1. Establish an Office for the SA Consumer Energy (or utility) Advocate. An independent body that would be directly involved with representing consumer interests (households, regions and SMEs) in all utility regulatory processes (electricity, gas, water) that would be charged with ongoing consultation with a diversity of consumer interests across South Australia and actively representing these interests in negotiations with network providers, particularly in regulated processes but also in broader policy settings.
  2. Establish a modest fund to assist community-based energy services to be developed and to implement community owned local and regional energy services. The USA’s “National Community Solar Partnership” (https://energy.gov/eere/solarpoweringamerica/national-community-solar-partnership) is a good model (previous President’s initiative)
  3. Establish a future energy skills training centre / courses. (To help establish SA as a global leader in integrating renewable energy into the grid, cheaply, and to seek skills and employment benefits) Linked to Port Augusta / Upper Spencer Gulf would be good

Actions to announce now with longer term benefit

  1. Announce seed capital to support demonstration / application projects to enable renewable energy application and assist the community in seeing and understanding the possibilities. We would expect some research support around this idea and utilisation of limited State capital to leverage funding through, ARENA, financiers and business. For example:
    1. The development of the solar thermal power station proposal at Port Augusta
    2. Trialling /demonstrating production of hydrogen for including in the ‘mix’ for gas supply through the SA gas network. (I know that AGN is working on this) this
    3. exploring pumped Hydro storage possibilities for South Australia
    4. Trialling and demonstrating grid scale battery storage technologies.
    5. Bio gas to replace ‘domestic reservation’ gas (see 5 above)
  2. Specify that all new electricity generation in South Australia will need to be frequency controlled.
  3. Establish a Premier’s (or Treasurer’s!) engineering prize for energy innovation with direct application to the South Australian energy market (may be a cash grant could also be offered as a prize)
  4. I know that “buy back Pelican Point has been mooted in recent media, not total madness. Andrew Nance and myself have speculated previously about a community purchase! So maybe the SA Government could help to enable a community based venture as a co-owner, maybe even with Government / Government backed Authority!

Needless to say, I’m more than happy to provide further information or ideas on any of these ideas, some of which I understand are a bit ‘out there’

Best wishes with all the deliberation / locking in proposals that I am sure you are heavily involved with.

 

Mark Henley

Manager Advocacy and Communications

Community Engagement Unit
Uniting Communities
10 Pitt St, Adelaide SA 5000

Ph: (08) 82025135     Fax: (08) 82025842

Email: MarkH@unitingcommunities.org

Web: www.unitingcommunities.org

 


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