The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has recommended a range of regulatory changes to enable distribution network businesses to supply their customers with standalone power systems where it is cheaper than maintaining a connection to the grid.

The reforms would provide consumers with the same protections, reliability standards and access to competitive retail offers via their retailer of choice as those connected to the grid.

A standalone power system — usually a combination of solar PV, batteries and a backup generator — would be installed by their distribution network but would not be physically connected to the national grid.  

AEMC Chief Executive, Anne Pearson, said the changes would enable those living in locations where power supply is unreliable, or subject to frequent or extended blackouts, to have better quality services.

The changes would also reduce costs for all energy consumers by avoiding expensive investment in poles and wires where customer numbers are limited.

“New technology using distributed energy resources is making it possible to supply customers at the end of the line in a cheaper and better way,” Mrs Pearson said.

“The old-fashioned way of centralised generation being distributed by stringing poles and wires to the remote corners of Australia is giving way to solar and battery systems where energy is generated closer to where it is used.

“These reforms mean that people living at the end of the line will get a better quality service, with the same protections, without paying any more.

“Ultimately, reducing the need for poles and wires to service remote consumers reduces the network costs which make up around 50 per cent of the average electricity bill. It also reduces bushfire risk and the visual impacts of powerlines.”

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