Pipes and Hydro in Federal energy fix
The Federal Government could buy a larger stake in the Snowy Hydro scheme in its push for energy security.
This week’s Budget papers include a $265 million energy package that the government says will help transition to a lower emissions future.
Part of the funding will cover a study grant through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to examine the best locations to increase the Snowy Hydro scheme’s capacity to produce energy and provide pumped hydro storage.
“The Commonwealth has indicated to the New South Wales and Victorian State Governments that, in order to accelerate the expansion of the Scheme, it is open to acquiring a larger share or outright ownership of Snowy Hydro, subject to some sensible conditions,” Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said.
“These conditions include that the Scheme would have to remain in public hands and that Snowy Hydro's obligations under its water licence would be reaffirmed.
“The Government is also looking at further hydro-electricity and pumped storage opportunities in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.”
The Government is also launching a $5.2 million national interest and cost-benefit analysis study into the construction of gas pipelines from the Northern Territory and Western Australia to the east coast, through Moomba in South Australia.
As part of $90 million worth of gas supply measures, the Government will extend funding by $30.4 million for the world leading Bioregional Assessments program to assess any potential impacts on waterways and aquifers from unconventional gas projects.
Over the next three years the expanded program will examine new gas reserves and provide independent scientific advice to governments, landowners and the community, business and investors on future secure and reliable gas supply.
This package also includes $28.7 million over four years from 2017-18 to encourage and accelerate the development of onshore gas for the domestic market.
The Government has also committed $2 million to the Australian Energy Market Operator to improve publication of real time assessment of gas flows and market analysis, and $13.4 million to support an Energy Use Data Model - data linking, analysis and modelling undertaken by the CSIRO - to improve energy market forecasting.
The Budget papers include up to $110 million to build a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta in South Australia and up to $36.6 million over two years from 2017-18 to target investment in energy infrastructure in South Australia under a bilateral Asset Recycling agreement.
The Australian Energy Regulator will receive an additional $7.95 million to scrutinise energy providers to ensure they are serving consumers' needs.
The Turnbull Government has also pledged $6.6 million over three years for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to establish a monitoring regime for the gas market by using its inquiry powers to compel the gas industry to provide greater transparency of transactions in the gas market, including factors affecting supply and pricing.
The Government will also provide $7.9 million in 2017-18 to the ACCC to review retail electricity prices.
The ACCC has been asked to produce a paper within six months on its preliminary insights into the strategies and pricing behaviours of key electricity retailers.