Cynical Delay Tactics from Coal, Gentailers Threaten Energy Market Reforms

Incumbent energy generators and retailers are attempting to use the COVID-19 pandemic to delay essential market reforms that would improve reliability, reduce emissions and put downward pressure on prices for Australian energy consumers, The Australia Institute has said.

New research from The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program shows that, instead of delaying energy market reforms, the economic crisis should lead to an accelerated reform program for the National Electricity Market, once health and reliability measures have been implemented. On 19 March 2020 the Australian Energy Council wrote to Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor to lobby for delay to reforms of the NEM.

“Pressure for delay from the coal generators and retailers that dominate the market is clearly self-interested,” said Dan Cass, Energy Policy & Regulatory Lead at The Australia Institute.

“If the incumbents want the already slow pace of NEM reform to be stalled then they must open their books to the regulators and present credible evidence of reliability or financial risks to the market.

“Delaying key market reforms such as Five Minute Settlement and Wholesale Demand Response would hurt Australian energy consumers, increase emissions and further destabilizes the grid.

“The fossil fuel industry is desperate to reduce competition from renewables and would never let a good crisis go to waste. If these reforms are delayed, it could keep ageing coal generators going for longer.

“Far from delaying these essential reforms, COAG Energy Council and the NEM market bodies should accelerate their reform plans, so that Australian households and businesses who are suffering in this economic crisis can have access to cheaper, more reliable energy sooner rather than later.”

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