A NSW Government website

Access schemes

Introduction

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).

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 – either through an application process or a competitive tender. Access right holders will contribute access fees that include funds for community benefit and employment purposes in the region.

REZ access schemes may:

  • 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.

Guidelines for Access Scheme Declarations

The Minister for Energy published updated Guidelines for Access Scheme Declarations in April 2024. The Guidelines provide information on how the Minister for Energy exercises the function of making access scheme declarations.

View the Guidelines for Access Scheme Declarations

The Guidelines are intended to be flexible to allow the Minister to declare an access scheme for each REZ that provides the best outcome for local communities and NSW electricity consumers.

The initial Guidelines were published in July 2022. The updated Guidelines were published following consultation on the Draft Guidelines for Access Scheme Declarations between 22 February and 20 March 2024.

The updated Guidelines were part of the reforms to enable EnergyCo to allocate the initial tranche of access rights under the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme. The updates are in line with the market information notice published in January 2024.

Supporting materials

Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme

The Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme is the first of its kind in the National Electricity Market. The Access Scheme was formally declared by the Minister for Energy on Monday 19 December 2022. Following consultation, an amended Access Scheme was declared on Friday 5 April 2024.

View the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration

The amended declaration was part of the reforms to enable EnergyCo to allocate the initial tranche of access rights under the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme. The updates are in line with the market information notice published in January 2024.

For details on the timing and form of the application process, visit Central-West Orana REZ Access Rights Application Process.

Consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme

Public exhibition of both the Access Scheme Declaration and 2024 update were conducted in line with the statutory process for the declaration of access schemes under Section 24 of the Act.

Recent consultation

The NSW Government published a Draft Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme for consultation between 22 February and 20 March 2024.

The proposed amendments to the declaration were to provide for EnergyCo, as the Infrastructure Planner under the Act, to allocate the initial tranche of access rights after conducting an expedited application process.

There were no proposed changes to the connection model, terms and conditions, or target transmission curtailment level of the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme. The proposed changes did not impact how access schemes benefit the local community.

The proposed updates to the access rights application process were in line with the market information notice published in January 2024.

Supporting materials

Initial consultation

The Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme was formally declared by the Minister for Energy under section 24(1) of the Act on Monday 19 December 2022. The Access Scheme was published in the NSW Government Gazette on Friday 23 December 2022 and is available here.

A Draft Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme was placed on exhibition from July to August 2022.

The exhibition followed consultation on the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Issues Paper in March 2021 and the REZ access rights and scheme design: Central-West Orana Consultation Paper in December 2021.

In August 2023, EnergyCo as the Infrastructure Planner, extended the term of the Access Scheme from 20 years to 33 years following consultation with key stakeholders. The Notice under the Renewable Energy Zone (Central-West Orana) Access Scheme Order 2022 is available here.

The extended term aligns with the Central-West Orana REZ Network Operator’s Concession Period and the typical asset life of major generation projects.

Supporting materials

Contact us

For more information, please contact [email protected].

South West REZ Access Scheme

The Renewable Energy Zone (South West) Access Scheme Order 2024 (South West REZ Access Scheme) was formally declared by the Minister for Energy under section 24(1) of the Act on Friday 12 April 2024. The Access Scheme Declaration is available in the NSW Government Gazette.

View the South West REZ Access Scheme Declaration

Key features of the South West REZ Access Scheme include:

  • a community benefits program funded through fees paid by renewable energy and storage developers for community and employment purposes 

  • a target transmission curtailment level of 3.86 per cent and initial aggregate maximum capacity cap of 3.98 gigawatts to ensure higher utilisation of the network infrastructure

  • flexibility on the location of projects not located wholly within the REZ geographical area to provide more opportunity for investment.

The scheme applies to significant components of the NSW-side of Project EnergyConnect, including infrastructure between Buronga and Wagga Wagga, and incorporating the planned substation at Dinawan. It will also incorporate the NSW-side of the proposed VNI West

Projects can bid for access rights as part of a tender run by AEMO Services launched on 22 May 2024.  

Registration is now open on the AEMO Services website, where you can find:

  • Tender registration details, deadlines and process. The registration deadline is set for Friday 7 June, and only registered projects can bid for access rights
  • Tender webinar details, planned for Tuesday 28 May 11am-12pm
  • Tender documents, including details on how to participate in consultation on access rights contracts
  • Bid submission details
  • Q&A
  • Subscription details for the AEMO Services tender mailing list. 

Learn more on the AEMO Services website

Consultation on the South West REZ Access Scheme

This public exhibition was conducted in line with the statutory process for the declaration of access schemes under Section 24 of the Act.

Recent consultation

A refined Draft South West REZ Access Scheme was placed on exhibition between 21 December 2023 and 5 February 2024. The refined Draft Access Scheme was published alongside a Supplementary Position Paper that explained the refinements made since May 2023.

The refinements were based on feedback received through the first consultation where 26 submissions were received from developers and other stakeholders.

More than 300 people attended a webinar on Monday 29 January 2024 to learn more about the Draft Access Scheme updates, and 17 submissions were made to the consultation on the refined Draft Access Scheme.

Supporting documents

Initial consultation

The initial Draft South West REZ Access Scheme was placed on exhibition between 2 March and 15 May 2023. The Draft Access Scheme was published alongside the South West REZ Access Scheme Position Paper that provides an explanation of key concepts.

A webinar was held on the Friday 28 April 2023 to provide an overview of the Draft Access Scheme, and 26 submissions were made to the initial consultation.

Supporting documents

Connection process for the South West REZ Access Scheme

Generation projects will need to hold an access right to make an application to connect to the access rights network, specified in the South West REZ Access Scheme Declaration.

Connection process

The Electricity Infrastructure Investment Regulation 2021 makes certain modifications to Chapter 5 of the National Electricity Rules (NER). Once an access scheme has been declared, the following adjustments to the connection process apply:

  • Connection enquiries can no longer be made through the NER process for a project seeking to connect to the access rights network. However, the access rights tender process will provide an alternative process.
  • A person cannot submit an application to connect a generating system to the access rights network unless they hold an access right.
  • A network service provider cannot make an offer to connect a generating system to the access rights network unless the project proponent holds an access right. This includes any projects that have submitted an application to connect before the declaration of an access scheme. This is consistent with policy positions on grandfathering published in the March 2023 Position Paper and December 2023 Supplementary Position Paper.

Contact us

For more information, please contact [email protected].

For queries regarding the South West REZ access rights tender, please visit the AEMO Services website.

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.