South Australia tightens grip on energy security

Posted March 16, 2017

Energy Networks Australia CEO John Bradley, whose organisation has previously attacked the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and pushed for gas over renewables, welcomed the integrated approach to power system security, including both storage technologies and gas supply development, but said a wider national plan is still required.

Malcolm Turnbull has threatened east coast gas suppliers his government will invoke its powers to control exports should they not make good on commitments to increase supply of the fuel into the domestic market.

The 250MW gas-fired power plant would supply electricity when generation from existing sources was insufficient.

"That won't happen again, consistent with the guarantees we've been given".

Mr Turnbull said gas producers committed to ensuring there was enough gas to meet peaks in demand and bring more supply into the market as quickly as possible.

"We won't be able to do so in the short term, for the simple reason that New Zealand's gas industry is islanded from the rest of the world", he said.

The peak body for the industry blames state governments for development moratoriums and high regulatory costs.

As well as building Australia's largest battery to store solar and wind energy and launching a new $150m Renewable Technology fund to support the roll out of clean power, the plan focuses on boosting gas power generation capacity and empowering the government to intervene more directly in the energy market.

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The Turnbull government has also asked for advice on options to improve transparency and competition in the gas market from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Mike Vertigan, the head of the gas market reform group in the Council of Australian Governments (Coag) energy council.

Ms Stanton said she liked what she had heard from the Government's plan, but like Mr Ross, she was anxious prices would not go down significantly. "But my expectation is yes - but time will tell".

Mr Turnbull would not be drawn on how the gas companies would increase supply, but said they would revise up their domestic gas production forecasts.

"The considerable powers we have we would never shirk from using in the national interest".

Weatherill assured that the energy project will put downward pressure on electricity prices and will provide reliable, affordable and clean power. "The industry understands how important it is to the government, and to the Australian people, from whom they get the social licence they need to operate".

Companies represented at the talks will include Santos, Shell Australia, ExxonMobil, Origin, Total, Asia Pacific LNG, Beach Energy, GLNG Operations and Senex, as well as the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

But manufacturers who spoke to AM said they were anxious the price of gas would continue to go up, even if supply was increased, while the Opposition said yesterday's meeting was a "talk-fest" that did not achieve any tangible results.