Renewable access expectation turns

GOVERNMENT and industry sources have denied WA will have an interim renewable energy access regime in place within a matter of weeks.

However, Sustainable Energy Association representative Matt-hew Rosser was surprised by the denials, saying the expectation came from recent discussions.

And while some industry players were surprised at the SEA statement that change would happen within a few weeks, they say they would nonetheless welcome some progress.

In mid-2001, a Renewable Energy Access Working Group provided the Office of Energy with a potential revamped list of access regulations, to enable ‘green’ power providers easier access to the electricity market.

Energy Minister Eric Ripper followed this up with a promise in parliament in May 2002 that regulations would be changed.

Questioned on progress since then, a spokesperson has described the necessary changes as “complicated”.

As with ‘black’ electricity providers, renewable energy providers cannot supply power into WA’s grid system unless they can balance generation with customer demand within a given range, at half-hourly intervals.

Western Power, as the balancing agent, charges a provider for balancing services, including whenever it backs up a generation deficit.

Renewable power sources such as wind provide intermittent supply and the costs have proved a barrier to attracting private green providers into the system.

Western Power alone can afford to provide wind power into the system, other would-be players say, as this power is backed by Western Power’s own balancing systems.

The Electricity Reform Task Force suggested the concerns of the renewable energy providers could be addressed within retailer licensing requirements when the new electricity market rules are designed, recommending that retailers provide a given proportion of their power from renewable sources.

The SEA says the renewable industry is in the dark about the detail of the promised interim renewable access regime.

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