Rewiring Australia calls for electricity market overhaul to slash energy bills

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Image credit: Rewiring Australia

Rewiring Australia has called for a comprehensive revamp of the National Electricity Market (NEM) in a bid to tackle soaring energy costs and align with Australia’s ambitious emissions and renewable energy targets for 2030.

The recent release of the final report from the former Energy Security Board, commissioned by the federal government, has drawn attention to the urgent need for reform.

While the report recommends integrating household solar into the grid, Rewiring Australia emphasises that a deeper restructuring of governance and competition is necessary.

Executive Director of Rewiring Australia Dan Cass underscored the outdated nature of the current electricity market, stating, “The electricity market was set up before low-cost solar was available and is no longer fit for purpose.

He continued, “It needs policy redesign by governments not tweaking by regulators. Requiring distributors to integrate solar is a no-brainer – but we must go further to reduce bills and emissions.”

Cass further pointed out that Australian households and businesses are facing exorbitant charges from established energy providers, and only a significant overhaul will unlock the full potential of rooftop solar energy, currently the most cost-effective source of power globally.

While welcoming the recommendations for integrating solar energy, Rewiring Australia believes that the Energy Security Board’s proposals do not go far enough.

Cass stressed the importance of energy ministers conducting a thorough review of the NEM’s governance to ensure a fairer playing field for consumers.

Dr Saul Griffith, chief scientist at Rewiring Australia, underscored the transformative potential of household-level energy solutions, saying, “Nothing can compete with cheap rooftop solar at 5c/Kwh so it is no surprise the big energy companies are trying to thwart this competition from their own consumers.”

Griffith pointed out the need for federal support in enabling households to invest in renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar panels, batteries, and electric appliances, even in densely populated areas like apartments.

Rewiring Australia’s proposed plan involves various initiatives, including a finance package akin to HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) to aid households in transitioning to electrified systems, a comprehensive review of the NEM’s governance and competition, and the implementation of “household-centred rules” to enhance consumer participation in the market.

Moreover, the organisation advocates for the establishment of Zero Emission Communities as “lighthouse” projects in select regions to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of sustainable energy practices at the community level.