Energy Consumers Australia is the national voice for residential and small business energy consumers. Established by the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council (Energy Council) in 2015, our objective is to promote the long-term interests of energy consumers with respect to price, quality, reliability, safety and security of supply.
We welcome the opportunity to comment on the draft Statutes Amendment (National Energy Laws) (Rules) Bill 2017 (the Draft Bill).
Implementing the Finkel Blueprint is a major reform task that will take at least three years and an intense collaborative effort by market bodies and energy market stakeholders. The Energy Security Board (ESB), with its unique whole-of-system view, will play a critical role in overseeing and coordinating this task and we applaud the Energy Council for moving quickly to get it up and running.
We also support efforts to expedite the implementation process. The extensive consultation and analysis already undertaken as part of the Finkel Review, together with the need to move quickly to restore community and investor confidence in the National Electricity Market (NEM), means that alternatives to the standard rule making process must be considered. In this submission we offer our general support for the Draft Bill, which would give the South Australian Minister, where there is unanimous support within the Energy Council, the power to make rules based on a recommendation from the ESB. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) would continue to manage these rules, as well as those made through the standard rule-making process.
In doing so, we offer suggestions about how the Draft Bill and the terms of reference for the ESB can be amended to ensure that ‘affordability’ is properly embedded in its governance and the design of the new rule-making power. It is critical that the institutional arrangements for the transformation of the sector reflect the pressing national importance of affordable energy for the community and the economy.
The full submission letter can be read here.