I have a piece in Quadrant this morning addressing the latest piece of energy market advice and regulation cornucopia of advice and regulatory ground preparation from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). This is the sixth major report on electricity in the past year.
In my pioece, I draw attention to the massive expansion of transmission that AEMO is planning to accommodate the poor reliability and greatly dispersed nature of renewable energy it sees as coming to dominate the national market. It takes that view of the triumph of renewables at the very time when the effusive Fatih Birol at the renewable-promoting IEA is worrying that renewable investment is in decline.
With her finely tuned political antennae the head of AEMO, Audrey Zibelman is stressing that coal will continue to have a place for thirty years or more. But she contemplates no new coal generators, a position that may be at odds with the recent ACCC horse-choker that opened up a window for government support of coal in recognition of the disaster renewable subsidies have created. And the increased strides for roof-top renewables AEMO contemplates appears to take no cognisance of the ACCC call for removing theirsubsidies.
We have a superabundance of bureaucrats analysing, reporting upon and and pontificating about the electricity market – a shifting bunch that has presided over the very situation they now offer solutions to correct!
In today’s AFR, a piece by Sarah McNamara, the new head of the generators’ lobby group, the Australian Energy Council, which attempts to offer a more balanced view of the AEMO report. The AER article notes that AEMO doesn’t actually advocate much immediate spending (nor does it quantify how much its various options might cost). Perhaps so, but the promotion of the report by Ms Zibelman ensures that its proposals will be widely accepted by politicians, some of whom are even calling for an ending of those pesky analyses that seek to ensure new transmission spending is justified.