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16 Oct 2014 Opinion

IES CEO's submission to AEMC

Our Chairman and CEO, Hugh Bannister, recently made a submission to the AEMC commenting on the proposed rule change on network pricing. This is an important topic that is sleeping in the public mind now but which is likely to attract controversy when the results of the change filter through to the average retail customer.

IES CEO's submission to AEMC

I wish to make a few specific and personal comments on the approach laid out in the draft determination, supplemented by impressions gained during the September consultation workshop on this topic.

A lack of cost reflectivity in consumer tariffs generally and network tariffs in particular has been a feature of the Australian market from the beginning. Air conditioning has been a growing source of demand, imposing additional strains on the network for a long time, and yet there was no great push before to reform network pricing; rather, networks simply gained approval for and built the capacity needed to accommodate the growth.  Those costs have gone into increased network charges across the board.

The current interest in tariff reform seems to have been driven by the related issues of declining demand and the increasing viability and penetration of embedded rooftop solar PV technology, with a further technology boost in prospect from improving battery technology and costs. Notably, such technology poses little or no extra cost burden on the network.  However, under existing tariffs high levels of PV penetration appear to threaten the current regulatory and business models that sustain the profitability of distribution businesses.


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