Queensland's CleanCo cleared to sell electricity directly to large users | RenewEconomy

Queensland’s CleanCo cleared to sell electricity directly to large users

Wivenhoe power station. Source: Queensland Mining & Energy Bulletin

The Queensland government-owned CleanCo has received approval from the Australian Energy Regulator to provide retail electricity services to large commercial and industrial customers from its growing portfolio of renewables projects.

CleanCo applied to the AER for authorisation to sell electricity directly to commercial and industrial customers, as it aims to maximise the value of the renewable energy generators it manages on behalf of the state government.

In receiving approval to sell electricity directly to large users, the publicly owned CleanCo expects to help increase competition within the Queensland electricity market and that the move will help to accelerate the development of additional renewable energy supplies in the state.

“CleanCo intends to expand its operations by providing retail electricity services to large commercial and industrial (C&I) customers as an alternative channel-to-market for its generation activities,” CleanCo said in its application to the AER for the retail authorisation.

“CleanCo will offer increased choices to its target market with its portfolio of clean energy assets as the energy market transitions to a more renewable-centric generation base.”

CleanCo has engaged consultancies Energy Edge and KPMG to guide the setting up of the new retailer arm and will draw upon the substantial experience of its board of directors, which features former ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht, and former CS Energy director Tracey Dare.

According to documents filed with the AER, CleanCo already manages a portfolio of more than 1,100MW of government owned hydroelectricity and gas plants, including the 570MW Wivenhoe hydro power station and the 385MW Swanbank E gas plant.

In addition to subsuming control of the state-owned hydroelectricity and gas plants, the Queensland government allocated $250 million to CleanCo in the 2019 Queensland budget to kick start investments in new renewable energy projects.

CleanCo will ultimately manage up to 400MW of new wind, solar and storage projects commissioned under the Powering Queensland Plan. As reported by RenewEconomy yesterday, CleanCo is expected to announce the successful projects that will receive Queensland government investment under the plan shortly, from a shortlist of ten projects.

CleanCo initially plans to focus on electricity retail services predominantly for Queensland users but may consider supplying users in the other NEM states (NSW, ACT, SA and Tas) in the future.

The authorisation will allow CleanCo to sell electricity directly to commercial and industrial customers with consumption greater than 100MWh per year.

Through the management of Queensland government owned generation assets, CleanCo has been able to deliver profits back to the Queensland government as a dividend, which has been subsequently passed on to households as to rebate to their electricity bills.

On Sunday, the Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad announced the third dividend payment generated by CleanCo passed on to households, worth $50.  It takes the total dividends delivered by CleanCo for Queensland energy users to $250 over the last five years.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s 50%  per cent renewable energy target continues to benefit Queenslanders, with the Queensland Competition Authority last year noting that the continued influx of renewable energy and other government initiatives such as the establishment of CleanCo continue to put downward pressure on energy prices,” Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said.

Update: it was originally reported former COO of Infigen Energy Geoff Dutaillis was a director of CleanCo. CleanCo has since confirmed that Geoff Dutaillis no long serves on the CleanCo board.

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