ENERGY ADVISORY AND REGULATORY SERVICES
ENERGY IN TASMANIA
Increasing electricity demand in Tasmania, combined with a clear trend of declining rainfall in the Autumn of each year, has resulted in the need for drought-proofing Tasmania's electricity supply for the period leading up to the commissioning of Basslink in late 2005. This will be achieved through the conversion of the Bell Bay Power Station to gas, the development of wind generation and the refurbishment, resulting in the improved efficiency, of existing hydro generation.
Energy Capacity Development
The Office of Energy Policy and Conservation (OEPC) is working in both State and national spheres to support the diversification of energy development within Tasmania.
The development of a wind farm at Woolnorth and proposals for further wind farm development on the West and North East coasts of the State will provide additional electricity supply in the reasonably short term. Wind farms could provide well in excess of 100MW of electricity generation into the Tasmanian grid in the period up to the end of 2005.
The rollout of the gas transmission and distribution networks will provide industry, commercial and domestic sectors with an alternative energy supply. The conversion of the previously oil-fired Bell Bay Power Station to gas is already providing a more cost-effective and viable energy source into the Tasmanian electricity grid.
The OEPC maintains an interest in other energy developments, such as opportunities for small scale distributed generation capacity into the electricity grid, and longer term projects, such as hydrogen energy for motor vehicles and fuel cells.
There have been two major reviews undertaken by the Australian Government during the past year - the Council of Australian Governments Independent Review of Energy Market Directions (the Parer Report) and the ongoing review of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets legislation). Both have significant ramifications for Tasmania's continued development of renewable energy generation capacity and the Office of Energy Planning and Conservation has been actively involved in these reviews.
Diversified energy development will not only drought-proof Tasmania's energy supply prior to the commissioning of Basslink, but following Basslink, should provide a substantial economic benefit to Tasmania resulting from the supply of peak load energy into the mainland electricity grid.
The Office of Energy Planning and Conservation's activities, both locally and nationally, reflect its commitment to provide a robust environment for new investment in the Tasmanian energy supply industry.
Provision of Energy Advisory and Regulatory Services
The major users of policy advice provided on energy issues, as described in the Energy Co-ordination and Planning Act 1995, are the Minister for Economic Development, Energy and Resources, the Government, energy users and the community in general.
The primary users of this Output Group, as it relates to energy market regulation, are domestic, commercial and industrial energy consumers, and potential entrants into the Tasmanian retail market.
Delivery of this Output Group
The Output Group is provided by staff of the OEPC in consultation/liaison with community groups, the State's electricity businesses (Hydro Tasmania, Aurora Energy Pty Ltd and Transend Networks Pty Ltd), private sector energy companies, universities and other jurisdictions.
Alignment with the Department's charter and values has assisted the OEPC to successfully deliver its key outputs. This has been achieved by focusing on the needs of key clients and end-users. To this end, consultation, collaboration and co-operation with key clients and end-users, including those within the Department, have been essential in determining strategies and measuring performance against those strategies.
Achievements against Strategies/Issues Identified for 2002/03
The Office has continued the development of an appropriate regulatory framework for establishing a gas supply industry in Tasmania. This has involved:
finalising processes for appointing gas distributors and retailers;
formulating gas safety regulations;
amending gas legislation governing transmission, distribution and contestability;
developing gas codes, licences and an ombudsman's scheme; and
establishing licensing processes for gas fitters and contractors.
Energy Efficiency /Greenhouse Gas Abatement
Various Commonwealth and nationally coordinated initiatives have resulted in the ongoing implementation and introduction of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas abatement programs in Tasmania. These include:
the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program;
the Photovoltaic Rebate Program; and
the Pilot Government Energy Management Program.
The OEPC is currently undertaking a feasibility study into the large-scale introduction of solar hot water systems on the Bass Strait Islands.
In July 2003, Tasmania, in line with mainland States and Territories, introduced Minimum Energy Performance Standards and Compulsory Appliance Labelling for nominated domestic electrical appliances.
Tasmania has also been active in the ongoing development of national policies associated with:
a one watt standby policy initiative; and
a National Framework for Energy Efficiency.
The OEPC has administered the preparation of a number of Bills during the period. These are:
Local Government (Highways) Amendment Bill 2002
Gas Pipelines Planning and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2002
Gas Legislation Amendment (Land Acquisition) Bill 2003
Gas Infrastructure (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2003
The OEPC has also developed Regulations under the Gas Act 2000 and the Local Government (Highways) Act 1982 and prepared a number of Orders of the Minister and the Governor related to the provision of gas transmission and distribution infrastructure in Tasmania.
The OEPC represents the State Government as an active participant in national policy forums under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Ministerial Council on Energy (MCE). These are:
Standing Committee of Officials reporting directly to the MCE;
Strategic Energy Security of Supply Working Group;
Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Working Group;
Downstream Petroleum Working Group; and
National Oil Supplies Energy Committee.
The OEPC also represents the Government on the National Gas Pipelines Advisory Committee (NGPAC) and is active on a number of State Inter-Departmental Committees associated with providing policy input from an energy perspective.
Where appropriate, OEPC personnel attend energy industry based conferences and courses in order to maintain contact with broad energy issues and developments and to strengthen networks in both government and industry around Australia.