AEMC proposes new technical standards for generators

The AEMC has proposed significant changes to technical performance standards for generators seeking to connect to the national electricity grid, and the process for negotiating those standards.

Generators play an important role in helping AEMO and network businesses keep the lights on.

This can include having the technical capability to control their voltage and frequency, and the ability to stay connected even when there is a major disturbance to the power system.

AEMC chairman John Pierce said the draft rules provide a foundation for a secure, least cost transition as new generators with different technical characteristics join the power system.

“The electricity system is transitioning, with a large number of new generators like wind and solar farms set to connect in coming years,” Mr Pierce said.

“We want to get the balance right between cost and system security for consumers.

“Matching technical requirements to local power system needs is key to keeping costs down for consumers.”

This major piece of work is the result of a rule change request from AEMO and months of cross-industry collaboration.

A team of technical experts comprising AEMO, generators, network businesses and power systems engineers worked with the AEMC throughout the project to systematically review each technical standard.

This targeted approach will enable the standards to be negotiated for each connection – tailored to circumstances.

“For example, if provision of voltage control isn’t an issue in a particular area because there are plenty of generators providing this capability already, we don’t want to be forcing new generators connecting to the grid in that part of the system to have to pay for unnecessary voltage control capability,” Mr Pierce said.

The draft rule tightens some standards where needed and sets clearer roles and responsibilities so all parties – generators, networks and AEMO – know what they have to do when negotiating the required standards for a particular location.

The AEMC proposes a transition period of eight weeks after the final rule is made to give everyone time to adjust, before the new performance standards apply.

Submissions on the draft rule are due by July 13.

This rule change request addresses a recommendation made in the Finkel review to update generator connection standards in the National Electricity Rules.

It is also part of the AEMC’s security and reliability action plan to provide AEMO with the tools it needs to manage a power system with a growing share of renewables and other forms of capacity.

This includes new rules starting in July 2018 to make networks maintain minimum levels of system strength and inertia.