Below is a summary of the Commissioner's submission on the Electricity Industry Bill.
“The smart grid will spur the kind of transformation that the internet has already brought to the way we live…” (USA Department of Energy)
The Electricity Industry Bill aims to improve competition in the electricity market and improve security of supply. In this submission, I draw on the experience gained while investigating the roll-out of smart meters in New Zealand. My advice is focused on one key aspect that will help to achieve the bill’s aim of improving competition and security of supply. This is the development of a smart electricity grid.
A smart electricity grid will be the most important electricity infrastructure development for the foreseeable future. A smart grid makes use of modern digital technology to upgrade the current electricity system, ultimately giving much finer control. A smart grid will provide for:
While my interest as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in a smart grid is in its potential to benefit the environment, the development of a smart grid is also clearly aligned with the intent of the bill.
There are many approaches that can be taken to develop a smart grid with different parties gaining different benefits and having different requirements. With the industry currently locked in a number of stand-offs, progress towards a smart grid is being hindered. And the consumer and environmental benefits it will bring.
To support the efficient operation of the electricity market, the Government needs to take active steps to resolve these stand-offs. By working with industry to identify key standards, the Government can coordinate the needs of all the different parties, and remove the barriers to progressing a smart grid.
I see this bill as a positive step forward. The new Electricity Authority will be well placed to ensure a fully functional smart grid is developed.
I recommend that the Electricity Authority be required to amend the Electricity Industry Participation Code to provide for the development of a smart grid.
This could be done by adding “mechanisms to enable the development of a smart grid” to Clause 45(2). This clause identifies “specific matters” that must be included in the Electricity Industry Participation Code.