Federal, state and territory energy ministers have finally reached an agreement to extend the term of the Energy Security Board for a further 12-months, allowing the recently established body to finish work on a post-2025 redesign of the National Electricity Market.
The energy ministers have also agreed to have current chair Kerry Schott and deputy chair David Swift serve in their roles for a further twelve months.
The ESB has been tasked with reviewing the design of the National Electricity Market, with a view to addressing the changing dynamics within the energy market, in particular, the emergence of a two way market where energy users are taking a greater role in producing and managing their own usage.
Earlier in August, the Energy Security Board released a consultation paper on a proposed approach to the design of Renewable Energy Zones, including a suggested stage approach to network investment and clean energy project roll outs, to ensure adequate coordination is undertaken to avoid the recent troubles currently being faced by some wind and solar projects trying to connect to the grid.
“The ESB will advise Energy Ministers on changes to the existing market design, or recommend an alternative market design, to enable the provision of the full range of services to customers necessary to deliver a secure, reliable and lower emissions electricity system at least-cost,” federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor said in a statement.
“The Government has a clear priority to deliver reliable, secure and affordable power,” Taylor added.
“It is important the ESB continues its work on the post-2025 market design work to ensure system strength now and into the future.”
The extension of the Energy Security Board’s life follows the consideration of the outcomes of a review of the body delivered to energy ministers, with a response to the review to be published soon.
It is understood that appointments to the Energy Security Board, which includes the positions of Schott and Swift, as well as the roles of the heads of the three market bodies – AEMO, the AER and the AEMC – were due to expire at the end of August.
The ongoing future of the Energy Security Board had been left in limbo after energy ministers were unable to reach an agreement on its ongoing existence, with the Morrison government understood to have been keen to wind it up, while state and territory energy ministers wanted to see the body finish its energy reform work.
While an extension to the life of the Energy Security Board is expected to be widely welcomed, the one year extension of its mandate does represent a shortening of its expected work plan, but chair Kerry Schott has said that she is not keen to see the body exist beyond the completion of its existing work.
In the original timeline outlined at the announcement of the post 2025 NEM design process, the Energy Security Board said that it expected to deliver a draft proposal for changes to the national energy laws by 2021, with a finalised proposal to be delivered to energy ministers by mid-2022.
The extension was agreed to by federal, state and territory energy ministers, who met on Tuesday, in another meeting that is bounded by cabinet-in-confidence requirements, ensuring all discussions remain confidential unless released by Taylor.