In recent correspondence with Consumers SA, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Chris Picton, gave cautious support to efforts by community organisations to aggregate small electricity generation for sale to the wholesale market.  While highlighting the considerable costs and difficulties involved in aggregating and selling electricity, the Assistant Minister pointed out that the National Electricity Rules provide a pathway for entry into the market by community groups.  

Download and read Assistant Minister Picton’s May 2017 letter by clicking here.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

Gas is no longer a necessary “transitional fuel” and Australia can leap directly to renewables, a new academic report claims, raising questions about the State Government’s energy plan.

The report by chemical engineers Tim Forcey and Dylan McConnell, of the University of Melbourne, says: “While gas has often been considered a ‘transition fuel’, this pathway is not necessary, and is in fact a detour.”

They argue this is because the major functions of gas in the electricity system – to provide baseload power and manage energy supply/demand fluctuations – can now be provided at a cheaper cost by solar and wind power, and pumped hydro and batteries, respectively.

“The idea [that gas is required] … to meet our energy requirements is now somewhat questionable,” McConnell told InDaily reporter, Bension Seibert.

Access the 18 May 2017 InDaily report by clicking here

 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is considering a Demand Management Incentive Scheme under which Distribution Network Service Providers would receive bonuses for choosing demand management over traditional network solutions. Unfortunately, according to Dr Martin Gill, the proposed scheme does not support the principles of the AEMC’s Power of Choice and would restrict the development of a free and fair demand management market.

The attached submission by Dr Gill analyses various options presented by the AER and argues that demand management schemes are more expensive than traditional network solutions and that incentive payments would only make them even more expensive.

Read more at Dr Gill’s website: http://www.drmartingill.com.au/

 

 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

Brian Attwood, Consumers SA Committee Member and Power Specialist, provides this report on the workshop held on 16 May 2017 and jointly run by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) as part of ESCOSA's Inquiry into Generator Licensing Conditions. 

"Adam Wilson of ESCOSA opened the workshop. Speakers were David Swift of AEMO, Cath Chalmers AEMO, Andrew Groom AEMO, Badra Badrzadeh ESCOSA and Michael Bagot of ESCOSA.

The discussions were very technical but I learned a great deal from them. I was sitting next to Natasha Cheshire Director, Licensing, Monitoring and Reporting, ESCOSA and Stuart McPherson Manager Technical, ESCOSA.

With the information on the presentations and talking with Natasha and Stuart I was able to have many questions answered. I asked for copies of the presentations and Natasha confirmed these would be sent to us in a couple of days. These could be put on our website when they arrive. [NOTE: the slides are now available by clicking on any of the links in this article.]

National generation licensing rules do not suit today’s conditions, so South Australia is working on Transitional Licensing rules.

I will do my best to report on what I learned, not being technically trained in this subject, as I believe this is more important, than the generator proposed licensing as this will be available in slide form later.

We have already 43% wind and solar generation in South Australia with a further 1881MW of new plant planned. AEMO considers Battery Storage as a Generating system so the Battery storage the South Australian Government is proposing will be in addition to new plant considered.

As we build more Non Synchronous Generators (Wind or Solar) in the short term we will have to use, in South Australia, gas or biofuel Synchronous Generators to keep the System Strength, Frequency Control, Inertia and voltage control.

South Australia is leading the world in this area as there is no system as large as ours operating in the world with so much Non Synchronous power generation. Our system was not built for this type of generation and now needs adjustment to run safely. We will be ahead of the National grid in forming rules for South Australia’s Power generation and distribution even though we are part of the Nation grid, because we have the problems now.

This is why ESCOSA and AEMO are working together to make rules to accommodate our new conditions. Other states will have these problems later.

We were shown a map of the National grid with area’s of weak frequency control and the further you are away from the Synchronous Generator the weaker the frequency control. This shows a new inter-connector with the Eastern State would NOT help our problem.

Battery storage may help in the future but it would be important where it was placed. Synchronous Condensers would help in the future but for the moment the Synchronous Gas Generator is the best option when spun up to speed, disconnecting it from the motor with an electronic clutch and then using the spinning generator to control the frequency by pull or push on the power system.

Restarting the system if failure occurred with battery storage is a possibility in the future. As time goes by all the ageing coal fired power stations will be with drawn so we need to find low cost solutions to these problems now, so when they are withdrawn the problems are fixed."

 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

The latest update from the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) is available here.

The update says that:

"Communities are starting to find their rightful place at the centre of the energy transition in this country.

Community energy continues to have a high profile since the huge success of the Community Energy Congress. The Victorian Government has just announced an important new initiative supporting community energy in three regional locations.

The media continues to see community energy as popular and newsworthy  – and what a great story it makes, from the $24 million invested in community energy in Australia to-date to the stories coming out of dozens of towns, villages and suburbs around Australia."

 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

 

The local Aboriginal community says it will receive economic benefits worth up to $1.8 million from a solar energy generation plant to be built near Port Augusta.

Click here to read the April 2017 news report on the INDAILY website

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

South Australia's South-East has long been identified as a region with considerable potential for bioenergy schemes - that is: schemes that use waste sources like crop residues, green waste, animal manure etc to create electricity, heat and high quality biofertilisers that benefit agricultural production.

  • The attached mapping work was carried out a few years ago by Zero Waste SA.
  • In early 2015, Renewables SA commissioned Jacobs Group (Australia) Ltd to undertake targeted research and the initial stages of development of a ‘roadmap’ to identify and support viable opportunities to further develop the bio-energy industry in SA.  Download a copy of their report here.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

The National Electricity Market (NEM) is complex, and that complexity is increasing, making it virtually impossible for consumers to engage with the market as it was intended, to ensure only the best products and services would survive. 

Click on the links below to access reference materials and essential background reading to help you understand the current debates on energy supply in Australia and its effects on SA consumers. 

As new material is added it will appear at the top of this page under the ENERGY heading. 

Consumers SA’s policies on electricity and other essential services can be found by following the link to the Association’s Current Policy Agenda here.

The initial material in this part of our website was compiled with the help of Jo De Silva, Senior Policy Officer, South Australian Council of Social Service.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

Click on these links to download fact sheets from the Australian Energy Managemant Operator (AEMO) about the supply of energy to Australian consumers. AEMO is responsible for operating Australia’s largest gas and electricity markets and power systems, including the NationalElectricity Market and interconnected power system in Australia’s eastern and south-eastern seaboard,

  

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

 

This is actually the infographic that accompanied the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC’s) December 2016 Price Trends report but the first page explains the components of a bill, as well as a list of drivers impacting wholesale electricity costs.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

System Reliability

This explains the difference between system reliability and system security

System Security

This fact sheet provides a good overview of contingency events in the NEM (which are not well understood), which then allows consumers to understand how protected events fit in. 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

This is an overview of the AEMC’s submission to the Finkel Review which outlines their views on addressing the trilemma.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

In the attached article, Dr Martin Gill, an independent expert on the Australian energy industry, argues that the Australian Energy Market Commission’s decision to force network demand tariffs on domestic consumers is not in their long term interest and that these tariffs will lead directly to increased electricity costs for the majority of consumers.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

The Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap (the Roadmap) has been developed to provide detailed milestones and actions to guide an efficient and timely transformation over the 2017-27 decade. Developed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia, the Roadmap is informed by an evidence based approach, referencing over nineteen reports that summarise expert analyses, scenario analyses and quantitative modelling to 2050.

An integrated set of ‘no regrets’ actions are identified to enable balanced, long term outcomes for customers, enable the maximum value of customer distributed energy resources and position Australia’s networks for resilience in uncertain and divergent futures.

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

 

At the end of March the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)  published its fourth and final incident report into the South Australian state-wide power outage (referred to as the ‘SA region Black System event’) that occurred on Wednesday, 28 September 2016.

The report illustrates the technical challenges of the changing generation mix and the need for these to be managed with the support of efficient and effective regulatory and market mechanisms that work together for the least cost and long-term interest of consumers.

 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

Consumers SA is a member of the Customer Consultative Panel established by the entity responsible for the distribution of electricity to most South Australian consumers, SA Power Networks (SAPN). 

In a recent presentation to the Panel, SAPN outlined the magnitude of the damage caused by the major storm that struck the State in late December and detailed the action taken by SAPN’s Emergency Response Team (and staff on the ground) to fix the downed wires as quickly as possible.

An arborist explained that this type of storm normally comes from the north but that this one was from the east. He said that while many old trees had survived northerly storms for many years without damage they could not take the storm from the east and a great number fell.  

Consumers SA suggested that it would greatly assist affected customers if regular updates of SAPN’s progress in responding to the emergency and restoring power were given on the State’s designated emergency radio station: ABC 891.

The very informative slides from the presentation, including images of the storm damage graphically illustrating the challenges of restoring power, are attached here

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

Click here for a graph showing how power rates as a top cost concerns for SA consumers. 

Click here for tables taken from an April 2017 AMEC report showing the relative current and projected price of power (in cents per kilowat hour) in the Australian states: with SA easily the most expensive. 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis

Most community generators and retailers are willing to assist groups in South Australia in advising them of the legal and other requirements in setting up community energy projects. 

Contacts for community generators:

Click here for contact details of one community retailer. 

Posted
AuthorRay Dennis