ENERGY ADVISORY AND REGULATORY SERVICES
The Office of Energy Planning and Conservation (OEPC) supports the Director of Energy Planning in meeting responsibilities specified in the Energy Co-ordination and Planning Act 1995. The Director’s principal duties are to assist the Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources in planning and coordinating the provision of energy in Tasmania, and advising the Minister on all aspects of energy policy.
In addition, OEPC represents Tasmania’s interests in national energy markets reform and development projects and national energy policy development. OEPC is also assuming operational roles in coordinating the development of high level response plans to deal with any possible major emergencies related to energy, and the administration of several projects using Federal funding to assist consumers who are remote from the electricity grid to use renewable energy.
OEPC’s goals and objectives align with Goals 1, 16, 19, 20, 23 and 24 of the Tasmania Together vision. These can be summarised by saying that Tasmanians will continue to have sufficient supplies of safe and reliable energy delivered on a sustainable and efficient basis and use energy wisely.
Developments in Tasmanian Energy
Major developments are continuing in the supply of energy in Tasmania. Notable achievements during the year include the completion of the Woolnorth wind farm (Stage 2) in the North-West of the State, the beginning of cable laying across Bass Strait, the introduction of reticulated natural gas throughout the State and finishing the conversion of the Bell Bay Power Station from oil to natural gas.
These measures are, in part, aimed at addressing potential supply issues due to the long-term trend of declining rainfall and increasing electricity demand. They will improve surety of supply for existing customers and provide customers with energy choices not previously available and will contribute both directly and indirectly to economic growth and prosperity in Tasmania.
The Woolnorth wind farm now has an installed capacity of 65MW, making it the largest wind farm in Australia. Hydro Tasmania has planned that the Woolnorth development will be able to generate in excess of 100MW by the end of 2005.
Hydro Tasmania, through the Remote Renewable Power Generation Program (RRPGP), administered by the OEPC, has installed an additional two 850kW turbines and a 200kW vanadium redox battery at Kirex farm on King Island to reduce the community’s reliance on diesel. A total of 25MW of the island’s energy now comes from the wind farm.
The introduction of natural gas is also providing benefits to the State. The transmission pipeline is complete and a number of large commercial customers have already connected. The rollout of gas to residential areas is substantially under way. It is anticipated that 38,500 households will be able to connect to the reticulation system by April 2007.
Achievements Against Strategies/Issues Identified for 2003/04
National Energy Markets Reform
The Office has contributed to the work of officials from all States, Territories, and the Commonwealth in setting up the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Energy Markets Commission and other reforms outlined in the communique from the Ministerial Council on Energy issued on 11 December 2003. This work is continuing, as is work on supporting consistent national approaches to energy efficiency, energy security and the planning for national transmission networks.
Tasmania Natural Gas Project
The Office has continued to facilitate the establishment of a natural gas supply industry in Tasmania. This has involved:
Finalising regulations to enable the construction of a gas distribution pipeline;
Developing codes to govern distribution and retail;
Developing codes to regulate customer transfer and reconciliation; and
Legislative amendments to facilitate the development of a retail market for gas in Tasmania.
Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Abatement
The Office has participated in a variety of national projects to address energy efficiency and greenhouse gas issues, including the Energy Efficiency Working Group, the National Framework for Energy Efficiency Working Group; and the User Participation Working Group.
Following the introduction of Minimum Energy Performance Standards and Compulsory Appliance Labelling for domestic electrical appliances in July 2003, the Office has undertaken to raise awareness of these schemes among the general public.
The Office continues to monitor the development of new energy options such as hydrogen combustion engines and fuel cells.
Remote Renewable Power Generation Program [RRPGP]
The Office has dedicated resources to the Remote Renewable Power Generation Program. The RRPGP is a federally funded project, which provides money for off-grid projects which displace diesel reliance. In addition to the King Island wind farm project, there has been a feasibility study for Cape Bruny Lightstation and a proposal to the Cape Barren Island community for an innovative hybrid wind/hydrogen solution. Another component of the program is the Residential Renewable Remote Area Power Scheme which provides for funding for similar off-grid projects at a domestic level. The Office continues to participate in the Photovoltaic Rebate Program, which is administered by Aurora.
OEPC is investigating options for reducing demand for electricity by King and Flinders Island customers through cost-effective programs aimed at:
increasing the use of energy-efficient products and appliances in households; and
encouraging and developing alternative energy solutions.
OEPC has administered the preparation of the Gas Amendment Bill 2003 and the Electricity Ombudsman Amendment Bill 2004.
The Office has also developed a range of subordinate legislation including regulations under the Gas Act 2000 and codes and Ministerial Orders related to gas distribution and retailing in Tasmania.
The State Government is represented by the OEPC on a number of national forums under the Council of Australian Governments and the Ministerial Council on Energy, namely:
The Standing Committee of Officials;
The Energy Markets Reform Working Group;
Strategic Energy Security of Supply Working Group;
Energy Efficiency Working Group;
Downstream Petroleum Working Group;
National Oil Supplies Emergency Committee; and
The User Participation Working Group.
The Office also participates in a range of other forums with other agencies and industry stakeholders to develop energy policy and regulatory frameworks for energy in Tasmania.
Emergency Response Planning
The increased diversity of energy supply in Tasmania and connection to mainland gas and electricity grids increases energy security for Tasmanians, but also requires a reconsideration of the way the State can best guard against risks to supplies and respond to any shortfalls or emergencies should they eventuate. Tasmania’s emergency response plans also need to be adjusted to take into account Tasmania’s participation in the National Electricity Markets. OEPC is taking a lead role in this through the Director of Energy Planning, assisted by key stakeholders.