Thursday, 17 September 2020 12:26

ACCC authorises energy industry co-operation during COVID-19 Featured


Australia’s competition regulator the ACCC has moved to ensure access to reliable and efficient energy supplies is maintained during the COVIDQ-19 crisis, by authorising cooperation between the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO and gas and electricity industry operators.

The authoristion granted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission allows energy industry participants to share essential personnel, essential inputs such as parts and equipment, and information about the operation of their facilities - and to coordinate repairs and maintenance.

“It is essential that Australian businesses and households have access to reliable and efficient energy supplies. The ACCC’s authorisation will allow industry to work together in a way that will help to minimise the risk of short-falls, particularly over the summer period,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

“This will also allow AEMO and industry participants to coordinate their busy maintenance period after summer, including on important repairs that were delayed during 2020 because of COVID-19. This co-ordination will also allow them to minimise the chance of COVID-19 outbreaks within facilities.”

The ACCC has stipulated that cooperation between energy market participants under the proposed authorisation must be facilitated by AEMO, and “does not allow the sharing of information about wholesale or retail energy prices, retail costs or profits; or any agreements relating to these issues”.

The conditions of authorisation are similar to those that have applied to AEMO’s interim authorisation granted in April 2020 and will apply for the full duration of the authorisation, until 31 May 2021.

The ACCC says that AEMO must report publicly on any coordination undertaken under the authorisation, and that the authorisation also ensures that any agreements between parties cease when the authorisation expires.

“We’ve already seen benefits of the interim authorisation, through the sharing of information and the implementation of COVID-19 precautions at facilities,” Ridgeway said.

“For example, AEMO has been coordinating maintenance at generators in Victoria and Queensland so that more generation capacity is available to meet demand during summer.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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