October 4, 2022
A group of 30 environment and climate organisations have today released recommendations to the Federal Government on the design of the Rewiring the Nation Policy.
Download the full paper here.
The Federal Government’s Rewiring the Nation policy promises $20 Billion for delivering the electricity grid upgrades needed to enable a transition to renewable energy.
This presents a great opportunity to build a grid designed for this century, in a way that benefits regional communities, electricity users and nature.
The Government recognises the need for transmission to ensure a rapid transition to an affordable, reliable and decarbonised electricity system. It has also rightly highlighted the opportunities for jobs and industry. But these can only be seized if projects genuinely deliver benefits to regional communities and protect our ecosystems. Neither nature or local communities are given much consideration under current frameworks and funding models.
Summary of Recommendations:
In the short to medium term, the Commonwealth Government could unlock ‘actionable’ transmission projects, improve local community outcomes where the lines are being built, and protect biodiversity by:
- Making the Rewiring the Nation funding model transparent
- Funding any gaps between the costs of transmission projects and what the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) allows
- Tying Rewiring the Nation funding to better social and environment processes and outcomes
- Respect and recognise the sovereignty of First Nations people and land through upholding the principles of self-determination and free, prior and informed consent
- Supporting the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to establish a landholder advisory committee that includes farmers, First Nations, & environmental representatives.
- Improving planning, community engagement, compensation and benefit sharing arrangements for landholders and communities hosting transmission lines, learning from improvements in wind industry practices over the past 10 years
- Pursuing policies that protect and enable sustainable development, including reform of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
- Highlighting the opportunities around transmission and the creation of a green metal industry
In the medium to long term, improving local outcomes and protecting biodiversity, as well as achieving decarbonisation targets, could be improved through:
- Directing AEMO to model pathways to meet 1.5 degrees as the preferred scenario in the 2024 Integrated System Plan (ISP)
- Coordination and funding of public and participatory network-wide strategic land use mapping that assesses areas of particular significance with respect to First Nations, agricultural producers, local communities and biodiversity value, to feed into future ISPs and national energy planning
- Reforming the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) to include social, climate and environmental considerations.
- Committing to a National Distribution Network Plan for distribution networks and associated reforms to enable more small and medium scale renewables generation and storage.
The full paper including detailed recommendations can be accessed here.