Know your NEM: NEG's windfall for big three power utilities | RenewEconomy

Know your NEM: NEG’s windfall for big three power utilities

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The proposed NEG is already delivering big gains for the big three gentailers, as Adani emerges as major Queensland issue, and REC prices fall.

Figure 10: Baseload futures financial year time weighted average
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What’s interesting at the moment

One of the criticisms levelled at the proposed National Energy Guarantee is that it will entrench the position of the large gentailers, specifically AGL, ORG and EnergyAustralia.

Investors seem to have taken the same view. Over the past month AGL shares are up 11 per cent and ORG shares 15 per cent, far outpacing the rise in the ASX 200 of 4% over the same period.

There will be more to say about the NEG but not before other events have run their course. The key events we look for are:

  • COAG Energy ministers meeting November 24. This meeting will tell us whether the Labor States will support the Federal Govts’ proposal. We assume that NSW will support the Federal Govt. Frontier Economic’s modelling of the NEG will be presented at this meeting. Much will be made of the modelling but with one exception we expect it can safely be ignored. The reasons for ignoring the modelling are:
  • Most of these models are out of date before publication and based on a 20th century world view. It’s rare to find one of these politically motivated models that turn out to be useful to anyone other than politicians. We feel somewhat sorry for the modellers who have to produce such nonsense. The money’s good but the work is soul destroying. So much talent being wasted on dross.
  • Unrealistic assumptions. Again the excessively high estimates for the cost of wind & solar PV are already documented but more importantly no coal or gas generator is going to build capacity based on a view that emissions policy is going to end in 2030. It’s rubbish and a waste of money getting the modelling done on that basis.
  • It won’t do a good job of capturing behind the meter impacts and the competition they provide to grid delivered electricity.

The one area that the modelling might help with is giving us some of the actual numbers that gentailers will be required to meet for the reliability part of the guarantee. At the moment there is nothing on that whatsoever other than that estimated dispatchable power has to be measured relative to estimated gentailer peak demand.

  • QLD election. This will be held on November 25

This will be held 1 day after the COAG meeting, Opinion polls suggest a hung parliament with the ALP presently in front of the Coaltion but, even with Greens support, unable to command a majority of seats. Sportsbet puts the ALP as narrow favourites to form the next Government.

The Premier has found a way to cripple a controversial potential $1 bn loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund [NAIF] to the Adani coal mine, thus making the Adani mine less likely. The premier did this without directly coming out against the Adani proposal.

The current opposition coalition in QLf heavily favours coal whereas the present Govt has an unlegislated but clear target to move QLD to 50% renewable electricity by 2030.

Projects like powering North Queensland, Kennedy 2 and potentially the Genex pumped hydro project as well as many other PV projects under construction and likely to be built will likely fare much better under a regime that supports more renewable energy.

All we can say is that it is no wonder the Nicholls opposition coalition is doing badly if the rest of its policies are as backward as its electricity policy.

That said QLD electricity under the ALP doesn’t have all the answers either. In the end it will likely have to privatise its networks and its generators to raise the funds needed to properly restore the QLD Govt balance sheet and to allow sector policy to be set independent of financial outcomes. You can’t have the referee owning one of the teams.

Turning to the weekly action

REC prices weakened this week

Electricity demand strengthened marginally relative to last week but is flat on last year. It’s worth pointing out that Australia has grown GDP about 20% since 2009 and grid delivered electricity consumption has fallen 8% over the same time frame.

Figure 1 Breaking the GDP & Electricity link. Source: ABS, NEM Review data to June 2017
Figure 1 Breaking the GDP & Electricity link. Source: ABS, NEM Review data to June 2017

Gas prices moved very little but were softer in QLD.

Spot electricity prices were lower than last week and in some States not all that much above last year. The average spot price in South Australia this calendar year is now neck and neck with that in Qld. South Australia showed some sharp negative prices this week.

Figure 2: Summary
Figure 2: Summary

Share Prices

Figure 3: Selected utility share prices


Figure 4: Weekly and monthly share price performance
Figure 4: Weekly and monthly share price performance


Figure 5: electricity volumes
Figure 5: electricity volumes

Base Load Futures, $MWH

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 11.13.24 am


Figure 10: Baseload futures financial year time weighted average
Figure 10: Baseload futures financial year time weighted average

Gas Prices

Figure 11: STTM gas prices
Figure 11: STTM gas prices


Figure 12 30 day moving average of Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney STTM price. Source: AEMO
Figure 12 30 day moving average of Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney STTM price. Source: AEMO

David Leitch is principal of ITK. He was formerly a Utility Analyst for leading investment banks over the past 30 years. The views expressed are his own. Please note our new section, Energy Markets, which will include analysis from Leitch on the energy markets and broader energy issues. And also note our live generation widget, and the APVI solar contribution.


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  1. Malcolm M 3 years ago

    What is PCP ?

    • juxx0r 3 years ago

      Usually the Previous Corresponding Period.

  2. Julie Mulhauser 3 years ago

    Hi David,

    Would it be possible to explain how electricity pricing works in Queensland?

    I have tried to make head and tail of the Queensland Productivity report recommendations. There seems to be multiple legacy tariffs and barriers to competition but I am not sure what they are advocating to address this.

    They appear to expressly advise against writing down the network asset base as proposed by the LNP. This money has already been spent by taxpayers who presumably get this back through network charges. Who would benefit if it is written down as advocated by the LNP?

    How does the Solar Bonus Scheme work? The report seems to recommend bringing the end of the Scheme forward to 2020 but removing participants that add storage to PV. Is this correct and why? What are the various parties position on this? It would seem advantageous to encourage adding storage to PV to reduce summer peak demand and thus reduce costs.

    Both One Nation and the LNP are promising a coal fired power station and claiming the economic arguments stack up – is this true?

    You say that the Queensland government will have to eventually sell its network and generation assets because a’referee can’t own one of the teams’. However because of the natural monopoly that is the electricity market – it would appear that taxpayers,who have paid for the assets that they use, have an interest in controlling these assets rather than privatising them. Doesn’t the competitive neutrality rule level the playing field between the state owned assets and private operators?

  3. Liam 3 years ago

    Hi David,
    This article says that LGC prices weakened, but Mercari is showing a pretty significant jump in the out years ( Has this change happened mid week?

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