In early 2021, AEMO and the Clean Energy Council (CEC) established the Connections Reform Initiative (CRI) to address concerns with delays and increasing complexity in connections to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
These complexities arise as the NEM is transforming with a greater penetration of inverter-based resources, a more diverse generation mix, and a more decentralised system.
The CRI has brought together a broad range of stakeholders to work on a range of solutions that address the systemic concerns involving all parties in the connection process.
Stakeholders involved include, CEC members (including generators, developers and original equipment manufacturers), network service providers (NSPs) and industry and market body representatives, including the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and the Energy Security Board (ESB).
Neil Gibbs (from Online Power) was appointed as an independent facilitator to bring structure, rigour, and objectivity to the process.
- Provide a connections process which is consistent, predictable and which delivers repeatable outcomes
- improve efficiency, including by reducing (eliminating) re-work, improving the quality coming into the process and addressing information asymmetry
- enable a collaborative working model between industry, AEMO and the NSPs
Connections Reform Roadmap
More than seven months of collaboration helped identify in excess of 100 potential improvements to the connections experience.
By exploring these, grouping them, refining them, and ultimately prioritising, the CRI Working Group recommended 11 reforms for either further detailed exploration, or in some cases direct implementation.
The Leadership Group endorsed the 11 reforms for implementation, as outlined in the Connections Reform Roadmap from December 2021 linked below.
The CRI continues to play an important role in accelerating the energy transformation in the NEM.
The Connections Reform Roadmap V2 linked below illustrates the evolution of the CRI from the planning to the implementation phase.
Collaboration remains fundamental to the CRI’s success. We thank the members of the CRI Leadership Group and the CRI Working Groups, and encourage the ongoing support of the wider energy community.
Streamlined Connections Process
The Streamlined Connections Process (SCP), a workstream under the CRI, focuses on identifying improvement opportunities across the connections process. The SCP Delivery Team conducted an end-to-end review of the connections process and identified streamlining opportunities. These were then further refined, and the group shortlisted 9 initiatives to trial. The CRI is now running the SCP Trial Program, where are number of improvements identified by the delivery group or proposed by industry are being trialled on live connections projects.
Network Access: Changes to S22.214.171.124 MAS
The Network Access stream, a workstream under the CRI, focuses on lowering select Minimum Access Standards (MAS) to allow NSPs to better reflect network performance and system needs at specific connection locations, with the intention of enabling a more flexible approach for AEMO, NSPs, proponents & OEMs to agree performance standards whilst minimising process uncertainty and system risks. As part of this work, a technical subgroup was formed to review the original intent of the S126.96.36.199 MAS under the National Electricity Rules (NER) and propose wording changes as appropriate. The proposed wording changes submitted to the AEMC ‘Efficient reactive current access standards for inverter-based resources’ rule change process is linked below.
The AEMC made a final rule and determination on April 20th, 2023 that reflected many of the wording changes proposed by the CRI technical subgroup.
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