As far as the Australian energy market is concerned, last year was more tumultuous than anyone could have predicted.
No-one – from governments to consumers, and from regulatory bodies to retailers – could have been happy with some of the things that transpired. It was certainly less than ideal that the topics of energy supply and pricing spawned so many negative articles.
But at least we can now feel like the entire industry in Australia is starting to move in the right direction – the direction of a more sustainable model resulting in lower prices within the next couple of years.
Here are some of the most significant things that happened in and around the energy industry in Australia in 2017:
Thousands of South Australian households experienced blackouts in January and February following orders from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to cut supply due to ‘lack of available generation supply’.
The Federal Government announced Snowy Hydro 2.0 in March, claiming it will increase capacity of the scheme by 50 per cent to add firm generation to the NEM.
Hazelwood power station closed after 50 years of operation.
The Prime Minister imposed tough new restrictions on gas exports to shore up domestic supply (meaning exports could be blocked if there is insufficient supply in the domestic market).
Professor Alan Finkel’s highly-anticipated Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market was released in June.
The Victorian Government’s much-awaited Independent Review of the Electricity and Gas Retail Markets in Victoria was released in August.
The Prime Minister met with major energy retailers, who were eventually pressured into a commitment to help more than 100,000 families secure a better power deal. These were customers whose fixed-term contracts had ended or were pushed onto more expensive default offers.
The Federal Government announced it would establish a Reliability Guarantee and an Emissions Guarantee, together forming a “National Energy Guarantee” (NEG) – based on the recommendations of the new Energy Security Board (ESB).
The ACCC released its interim report of the Retail Electricity Pricing Review (and took further submissions in response to that).
South Australia became home to the world’s largest lithium ion battery, a 100 MW Tesla battery in Jamestown