Under the NSW Electricity Strategy, households across New South Wales are expected to save $40 per year on their electricity bills and the state will have one of the highest reliability targets in the world.

New South Wales Energy Minister, Matt Kean, said the strategy will ensure reliable and affordable electricity supply for the people of New South Wales, particularly in peak summer periods.

“We want to create a competitive, low-cost market that delivers resilient energy supply while putting downward pressure on electricity prices,” Mr Kean said.

“Not only does this strategy help us achieve that, it will attract $8 billion in investment for emerging energy technologies in New South Wales, diversifying our energy supply and creating jobs for the future.”

The strategy includes a new Energy Security Safeguard to drive the roll-out of energy efficiency technologies and smart appliances that use electricity when it is cheap and off-peak, and an Energy Security Target to ensure there is enough capacity in the electricity grid on the hottest days, even with the two largest generating units offline.

It will also include a plan to deliver Australia’s first coordinated Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the central west of the state, to support the new generation needed to get energy bills down.

“As our existing power generators approach the end of their lives, we need to ensure low-cost alternatives are coming online,” Mr Kean said.

“By focusing on reliability, we can ensure that we can get the benefits of renewables without the reliability problems we have seen in other states.

“While there will always be extreme events which impact the grid’s reliability, our Electricity Security Target will mean that changes to the state’s energy mix do not come at the expense of our system’s reliability.”

Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said plans to support the rollout of Renewable Energy Zones were particularly exciting and would help to address the urgent need for new generation capacity to secure the state’s future energy supply.

“New South Wales has rightly identified the need to accelerate investment in renewable energy and energy storage. Currently, New South Wales is the most heavily coal-dependent state in the country, and with four of its coal-fired power stations due to close in the next 15 years, it’s critical to start planning for the future now,” Mr Thornton said.

“It is great to see a government show leadership by progressing Australia’s first coordinated REZ. The pilot REZ and dedicated REZ body are great initiatives and will play a key role in improving reliability and delivering affordable energy to replace the state’s existing coal generators as they retire.

“While there’s still plenty of work to be done, it’s a great step forward for New South Wales and will undoubtedly help build confidence to invest in new clean energy projects in the state.

“With recent CEC analysis revealing a 60 per cent reduction in clean energy investment over the past 12 months, this is exactly the type of commitment we need from government to address the current challenges facing investors.”

The CEC also welcomes plans to improve the regulatory framework to support new generation, expand the current Energy Savings Scheme to a broader Energy Security Safeguard and a further round of grants for the Emerging Energy Program.

“We look forward to working with the New South Wales Government to help design and deliver these initiatives,” Mr Thornton said.

The Energy Efficiency Council has also welcomed the strategy, which ramps up action on energy efficiency and supports the rollout of ‘smart’ devices and equipment that can take load off the system when demand is high.

The new strategy flags a major revamp of the state’s Energy Savings Scheme, which will be extended to 2050 and rebadged the Energy Security Safeguard.

Energy Efficiency Council CEO, Luke Menzel, said that with this announcement, Energy Minister Matt Kean has moved New South Wales into a leadership position on smart energy management.

“The new Energy Security Safeguard will do two crucial things,” Mr Menzel said.

“Firstly, it will raise the ambition of New South Wales’ energy efficiency target, which will drive energy and cost savings for New South Wales households and businesses.

“Secondly, it will establish a companion effort on demand management, which will support the rollout of smart devices and equipment that can automatically take load of the system when demand is high.”

The strategy also includes a range of new measures to encourage investment in firmed, large-scale renewable generation.

Mr Menzel backed the State Government’s balanced approach to encouraging investment in energy efficiency, renewables and smart energy management.

“Energy efficiency to bring down bills. Firmed renewables to replace aging generators. New, smart devices and equipment to balance the system,” Mr Menzel said.

“Together, these elements add up to a credible plan to deliver an affordable, reliable and sustainable twenty-first century energy system, and it is a template that should be emulated around the country.”

The NSW Electricity Strategy is available to download here.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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