NT to develop competitive electricity market

The Northern Territory will develop its own competitive wholesale electricity market as part of the state government’s plan to deliver lower power prices.

In the next 12 months, a Northern Territory Electricity Market (NTEM) will be developed, consistent with recommendations made by the independent panel in the Roadmap to Renewables report.

This will ensure the growing interest in renewable energy can be facilitated in the Darwin-Katherine power network in a way that will deliver lower cost generation and reliable power to Territorians.

The Northern Territory Government announced the electricity market reforms to deliver reliable power and meet the state’s target of its 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said creating local jobs was his number one priority.

“Our election commitment of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 is already paying dividends by creating local jobs in the growing renewable energy sector,” he said.

“We have kept our promise to stabilise power prices after massive hikes under the CLP.

“The fact we have also kept public assets in public ownership means we are perfectly placed to transition to more renewable energy while maintaining system reliability.”

The NTEM is expected to be up and running within 12 months, and government will work closely with stakeholders on design and implementation.

The state government will also begin consultation shortly on a review of supply and feed-in tariffs to encourage behind the meter energy storage for those with rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) and stimulate greater take-up of energy efficient technologies.

This was also one of the recommendations made by the renewables panel to increase system reliability and enable Territorians to reduce their electricity costs during the most expensive times of the day.

In a major step towards reaching the 50 per cent renewables target, the government has approved a 25MW solar photovoltaic electricity plant to be developed near Katherine.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) between Jacana Energy and Katherine Solar will enable the construction of the $40 million project, create more than 100 jobs during construction and be the largest renewable energy generator in the Northern Territory.

Epuron executive director Martin Poole said the company was pleased to sell its energy to Jacana.

“We look forward to the Katherine solar project moving into construction in the coming months,” he said.

“The NT has great potential for solar energy, and it is exciting to see the Territory Government’s initiatives to enable investors to compete to generate the lowest cost solar power for the grid.”

NT Minister for Renewables and Essential Services Dale Wakefield said the PPA would increase renewable energy use in the Territory by between 3 and 4 per cent.

“It’s a huge step towards our renewable energy target and will put downward pressure on electricity prices,” he said.

“There are lessons learned from the National Energy Market that we have incorporated into the design of this policy.

“This is a common-sense and best practice approach tailored for the Territory’s unique circumstances.”