Green generators granted access

GREEN electricity producers are on the cusp of gaining effective access to WA’s main power grid.

Greens WA electricity spokesman Robin Chapple lifted a disallowance motion his party had placed on previous plans to introduce an electricity access regime.

Mr Chapple said lifting the disallowance motion allowed a new access regime to take place that would be underpinned by a letter of intent he had received from Energy Minister Eric Ripper.

“The letter provides the framework for the renewable energy industry to access the grid but the details are not yet set down in black and white,” he said.

In his letter, Mr Ripper said he wanted the access regime to be workable for renewable energy generators.

“I am concerned to ensure that the new arrangements do provide what is intended and do not provide what might be called ‘Claytons’ arrangements. The arrangements will be protected from arbitrary decision making by Western Power,” Mr Ripper wrote.

Sustainable Energy Industry Association WA branch chairman Matthew Rosser said he had since received an email from the Office of Energy saying that it would enforce the undertakings outlined in Mr Ripper’s letter.

“This means renewable energy producers in WA will become more viable – providing this all gets up,” he said.

Renewable energy generators spoken to by WA Business News said access to WA’s power lines has been a major problem.

They claimed an access regime designed by Western Power and the Office of Energy threatened to virtually exclude most green generators from the WA market because new players were faced with onerous barriers to entry.

Among the issues that concerned them was a requirement to pay Western Power for any top-up power for load balancing.

There was also a requirement for Western Power to approve any load balancing arrangements.

This caused a great deal of concern to the industry because it would make the utility both a competitor and the market regulator.

Another concern is that Western Power has capped the amount of independent renewable energy generation at 35 megawatts.

This is less than 1 per cent of the grid’s capacity.

The Federal Government has decreed that all States have to draw at least 2 per cent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010.

WA has many green energy players keen to enter the market but they need guaranteed access to secure finance.

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