NSW launches electricity strategy featuring renewable energy zones

Matt Kean
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean

New South Wales has launched its NSW Electricity Strategy, which focuses on affordable, reliable power for New South Wales, while also supporting renewable energy projects.

The NSW Government said households across NSW are expected to save $40 per year on their electricity bills with the strategy and the state will have one of the highest reliability targets in the world.

Energy Minister Matt Kean said the strategy will also ensure reliable and affordable electricity supply for the people of NSW, particularly in peak summer periods.

“We want to create a competitive, low-cost market that delivers resilient energy supply while putting downward pressure on electricity prices,” Mr Kean said.

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“Not only does this strategy help us achieve that, it will attract $8 billion in investment for emerging energy technologies in NSW, diversifying our energy supply and creating jobs for the future.”

The strategy includes a new Energy Security Safeguard to drive the roll-out of energy-efficiency technologies and smart appliances that use electricity when it is cheap and off-peak, and an Energy Security Target to ensure there is enough capacity in the electricity grid on the hottest days, even with the two largest generating units offline.

It will also include a plan to deliver Australia’s first coordinated Renewable Energy Zone in the Central-West to support the new generation needed to get energy bills down.

“As our existing power generators approach the end of their lives, we need to ensure low-cost alternatives are coming online,” Mr Kean said.

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“By focusing on reliability, we can ensure that we can get the benefits of renewables without the reliability problems we have seen in other states.

“While there will always be extreme events which impact the grid’s reliability, our Electricity Security Target will mean that changes to the state’s energy mix do not come at the expense of our system’s reliability.”

The Energy Efficiency Council has welcomed the NSW Government’s new electricity strategy, which ramps up action on energy efficiency and supports the rollout of ‘smart’ devices and equipment that can take load off the system when demand is high.

The new NSW Electricity Strategy flags a major revamp of the state’s Energy Savings Scheme, which will be extended to 2050 and rebadged the Energy Security Safeguard.

Council CEO Luke Menzel said that with this announcement, Energy Minister Matt Kean has moved NSW into a leadership position on smart energy management.

“The new Energy Security Safeguard will do two crucial things,” Mr Menzel said.

“Firstly, it will raise the ambition of NSW’s energy efficiency target, which will drive energy and cost savings for NSW households and businesses.”

“Secondly, it will establish a companion effort on demand management, which will support the rollout of smart devices and equipment that can automatically take load of the system when demand is high.”

The Clean Energy Council also supported the strategy, stating it will help remove the barriers to new clean energy investment and unlock the state’s enormous renewable energy potential.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said plans to support the rollout of Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) were particularly exciting and would help to address the urgent need for new generation capacity to secure the state’s future energy supply.

“NSW has rightly identified the need to accelerate investment in renewable energy and energy storage,” Mr Thornton said.

“Currently NSW is the most heavily coal-dependent state in the country, and with four of its coal-fired power stations due to close in the next 15 years, it’s critical to start planning for the future now.

“It is great to see a government show leadership by progressing Australia’s first coordinated REZ. The pilot REZ and dedicated REZ body are great initiatives and will play a key role in improving reliability and delivering affordable energy to replace the state’s existing coal generators as they retire.”

“While there’s still plenty of work to be done, it’s a great step forward for NSW and will undoubtedly help build confidence to invest in new clean energy projects in the state. With recent CEC analysis revealing a 60 per cent reduction in clean energy investment over the past 12 months, this is exactly the type of commitment we need from government to address the current challenges facing investors.”

The NSW Electricity Strategy is available here and is published ahead of the COAG Energy Council meeting in Perth.

Next month it’s expected NSW will announce a bilateral deal with the Federal Government on transmission, generation and emissions after Mr Kean dropped a long-standing push for a national energy policy.

He said he would support the Federal Government in a bilateral deal that he said is “much, much better” for the state of NSW.

This has led to some criticising NSW as having been “bought” by Angus Taylor.