Access schemes are a key part of the NSW Government’s plan to coordinate and encourage renewable energy and storage investment in Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) and realise the objectives of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap (the Roadmap) and the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (the Act).
An access scheme is intended to enable efficient investment in generation, storage and transmission infrastructure in the long-term interest of consumers while delivering positive outcomes for local and First Nations communities.
Generation and storage projects that wish to connect to network infrastructure which is subject to an access scheme will need to apply for an access right through a competitive tender. Access right holders will be charged access fees that include components to fund community benefit and employment programs.
REZ access schemes will:
- govern the volume of projects that may be granted access rights to connect to REZ network infrastructure and define the terms and conditions of the access rights
- enable investment in new, low-cost generation and storage projects by providing increased certainty of curtailment risks for access right holders while maintaining an efficient level of utilisation of the REZ scheme infrastructure
- create a streamlined connection process for projects that will improve connection timeframes, provide greater certainty and reduce re-work and costs compared to the open-access connection process.
By managing generation and storage connections in the REZs, the access schemes will enable active coordination of network, generation and storage investment. This will help optimise the network, reduce bills for energy consumers, and improve coordination of outcomes for local communities.
The NSW Government has published Draft Guidelines for Access Scheme Declarations which is one of the reforms required to enable the Infrastructure Planner, under the the Act, to grant or increase an initial allocation of access rights following an application process. For more information, including to provide feedback, please visit the Climate and Energy Action website.
Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme
The Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme is the first of its kind in the National Electricity Market (NEM). We are committed to delivering the best outcomes for stakeholders in the Central-West Orana REZ.
The NSW Government has published an updated Draft Renewable Energy Zone (Central-West Orana) Access Scheme Order 2024 for consultation.
The proposed amendments to the declaration are to provide for the Infrastructure Planner, under the Act, to grant or increase the initial allocation of access rights after conducting an application process (clause 7(1)(a)(ii)).
There have been no other changes to the connection model, terms and conditions, or target transmission curtailment level of the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme. The changes do not impact how access schemes benefit the local community.
The proposed updates to the access rights application process are in line with the market information notice, published in January 2024.
Public submissions are invited from Thursday 22 February 2024 to Wednesday 20 March 2024.
To provide feedback on the Draft Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration, please visit the Climate and Energy Action website.
The NSW Government published a Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Issues Paper in March 2021, which received over 50 submissions, and hosted a public webinar in April 2021 with around 300 participants. This Issues Paper canvassed three potential models for the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme, including a limited physical connection model and two financial compensation models.
Based on this initial consultation process, the NSW Government published the REZ access rights and scheme design: Central-West Orana Consultation Paper in December 2021 for an 8-week consultation period. This paper outlined proposed design concepts, structural and implementation elements of the access right and scheme to gather feedback. Over 300 attendees participated in a public webinar and 41 stakeholders provided written submissions.
In July 2022, the NSW Government published a Central-West Orana REZ Access Rights and Scheme Design Positions Paper alongside a draft Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration to explain the policy positions and the proposed enabling regulations to facilitate consultation before gazettal of the final Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration. This included insights into the analysis and considerations behind policy design features and references to the feedback received on the Consultation Paper as relevant.
Following consultation on the draft Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration from July to August 2022, the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme was formally declared by the Minister for Energy under section 24(1) of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 on 19 December 2022 and published in the NSW Government Gazette on 23 December 2022. The declaration is available here.
The Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration sets out how generation and storage projects can be granted access rights to new network infrastructure within the Central-West Orana REZ and is the primary statutory instrument for the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme.
Generation and storage projects that wish to connect to the new Central-West Orana REZ network infrastructure to which the access scheme applies will need to seek an access right.
After consulting with key stakeholders, under clause 13(4) of the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration, EnergyCo as the Infrastructure Planner, extended the term of the Scheme from 20 years to 33 years by publishing this Notice under the Renewable Energy Zone (Central-West Orana) Access Scheme Order 2022 on the EnergyCo website on 31 August 2023. EnergyCo extended the term to align with the Central-West Orana REZ Network Operator’s Concession Period and the typical asset life of major generation projects.
New England REZ Access Scheme
EnergyCo is currently developing an access scheme for the New England REZ and will consider how this access scheme could be applied to the New England REZ. We will consult with industry and other stakeholders as part of this process.
South West REZ Access Scheme
The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) has developed a refined Draft South West REZ Access Scheme for consultation.
The updated proposal follows public consultation on the first Draft Renewable Energy Zone (South West) Access Scheme Order 2023 (Draft South West REZ Access Scheme) and Scheme Design Position Paper from 2 March to 15 May 2023.
The NSW Government received 26 submissions as part of this process and has now published an addendum to the original position paper which explains the changes to the refined Draft South West REZ Access Scheme.
The key proposed changes aim to address stakeholder feedback while delivering on the Government’s statutory responsibilities and policy objectives and include:
- Increasing the Target Transmission Curtailment Level (to 3.86 per cent) and initial aggregate maximum capacity cap (to 3.98 gigawatts) to ensure higher utilisation of the network infrastructure, and
- Providing flexibility on the location of projects not located wholly within the REZ geographical area to provide more opportunity for investment.
The proposed scheme would apply to significant components of the NSW-side of Project EnergyConnect, including infrastructure between Buronga and Wagga Wagga, and incorporating the planned substation at Dinawan.
The proposed access scheme for the South West REZ is intended to deliver benefits to consumers, host communities and investors, in line with the objectives of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 and the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.
The proposed scheme would:
- foster community support and regional economic benefits: by delivering outcomes for local communities, including through access fee distribution, mitigation of cumulative impacts and strategically managing land use considerations
- utilise the network efficiently: to promote energy affordability through coordinated and optimised delivery of network and generation infrastructure, ultimately benefiting NSW consumers
- provide investment certainty: to proponents through improved protection against congestion and curtailment within the REZ
- improve certainty of connection timeframes: by facilitating a REZ connection process.
South West REZ Access Scheme Developer Reference Group
The NSW Government is committed to delivering the best outcomes for stakeholders in the South West REZ, including renewable energy project developers.
This is why a South West REZ Access Scheme Developer Reference Group (DRG) has been formed. This is an important forum for active developers in the South West to contribute to the design and delivery of the South West REZ. If you are a developer in the South West and would like to be part of the group, contact us at [email protected].