In 2021, AEMO Services was appointed by the NSW Government to act as Consumer Trustee for the state’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, applying our independent expertise to plan, assess and guide long-term investment in the NSW energy sector. Whilst our most prominent task as Consumer Trustee is to plan for, design and operate the tender process for new infrastructure in generation, firming and long-duration storage, we also play a lesser known, yet important and very specific role - authorisation of network infrastructure projects in Renewable Energy Zones (REZs). These two areas of responsibility - tenders to facilitate new energy sources and authorising network infrastructure – share a connection. New network infrastructure in Renewable Energy Zones enables the generation and storage infrastructure required to transform the energy system.

The rationale behind AEMO Services’ involvement in network infrastructure lies in our unique mandate under the Roadmap to act in the long-term financial interests of the state’s energy consumers. In our work on tenders, this means ensuring incentives for private infrastructure projects achieve value for money. Our role in network infrastructure helps to ensure the final cost to NSW electricity consumers meets the forecast generation and storage needs, and that proceeding with the proposed infrastructure delivers benefits to consumers.

Consequently, AEMO Services’ authorisation of plans for network infrastructure within REZs, ensures these projects deliver long-term benefits to NSW energy consumers, support the achievement of the development pathway and contribute to the overall objectives of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.

Network Authorisation Process and Approach

The Network Authorisation Process and Approach Paper focuses on the processes and approach AEMO Services will adopt in performing its role and functions under the EII Act to support the timely and efficient delivery of REZ network infrastructure projects.

This Paper is intended to provide transparency to stakeholders on how AEMO Services will exercise its functions under the EII Act and outlines:

  • The framework for delivering REZ network infrastructure projects and where network authorisation fits within this broader process (see section 2.1).
  • Key touchpoints in the delivery of REZ network infrastructure projects where stakeholders can provide feedback and input (see section 2.2).
  • The different roles and responsibilities of the Consumer Trustee, Infrastructure Planner, and Regulator in supporting the overarching delivery of REZ network infrastructure projects under the EII Act (see section 2.1.).
  • The approach and processes that underpin the AEMO Services’ exercise of its function under the EII Act to authorise REZ network infrastructure projects (see section 3).

The intended approaches and processes set out in this paper provide a general framework under which AEMO Services will exercise its authorisation function. AEMO Services retains the discretion to apply flexibility to its approach and process to reflect the unique circumstances of each REZ to meet the objects of the EII Act and other requirements set out in the EII Act and Electricity Infrastructure Investment Regulation 2021 (the Regulations).