Energy Security | QUESTION TIME


Mr PATTERSON (Morphett) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister please update the house on ElectraNet’s plan to address system strength and stability in South Australia?

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:04): Yes, I can. Thank you very much to the member for Morphett, who has quite a detailed understanding of these sorts of things, which I really appreciate. It’s very helpful for him when he advocates on behalf of his constituents. In late 2017, the Australian Energy Market Operator identified very serious system strength problems in our energy grid in South Australia.

You might remember also late 2017, the dying days of the previous Labor government, and it’s no coincidence that after 16 years of failed energy policies that’s where we got to. AEMO said that they needed to address this issue.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The Australian Energy Regulator recently announced that it had approved ElectraNet to build and recover costs for four synchronous condensers in two locations: at Port Augusta and at Robertstown. These synchronous condensers will contribute to system strength. They will contribute to making our grid more reliable, which is very important for many reasons; whether the smallest household through to the largest employer, you need to have reliable electricity. It’s something that the previous government’s energy policy certainly did not deliver. We are working very hard on that in partnership with all the various energy industry agencies and, of course, with industry itself.

Another thing we are working on very hard is to get the cost of electricity down. Very interestingly, when AEMO said that they wanted to work on system strength and they looked at this possibility of synchronous condensers as one of the solutions, the former energy minister said that it was a bad idea because it would cost too much. Perhaps he didn’t understand, or perhaps it was just a political point that he was trying to make, but the reality is that that’s exactly what the Australian Energy Regulator assesses, one of the things that it assesses as part of its overall investigations into whether this should go ahead.

The Australian Energy Regulator is very much on the side of consumers, and it has determined that actually the synchronous condensers will save electricity consumers in South Australia money. That’s their job and that’s their finding. It’s the previous government that got us into this situation, shamefully. It is the previous government that argued against one of the solutions, shamefully. Mr Speaker, let me tell you that every day we are working to make electricity more affordable, more reliable and cleaner in South Australia. We are very happy to partner with ElectraNet, who is going to install these four synchronous condensers in two locations as one of many parts of this very important work.