Seismic shift underway of electricity grid
The future of Australia's electricity system is being mapped out to ensure it best supports households amid a looming influx of solar panels and electric vehicles.
The Australian Energy Market Commission - which sets the rules for the electricity grid - has put forward a possible change to how the system works.
The change would help customers connect distributed energy resources in a grid so they have the ability to not only buy power but essentially sell it too.
Distributed energy resources are devices capable of producing, storing or managing energy at homes and businesses, such as rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles.
AEMC chief Benn Barr says the electricity system can be decarbonised faster and cheaper if more small solar customers are connected, and it's worth their while to install batteries.
"But to do that we need to make some changes to the power system," he said.
"Within 10 years, half of all energy users will be using home energy options like solar.
"We must make sure this seismic shift doesn't leave anyone behind because every Australian, whether they have solar or not, deserves an affordable, sustainable power system."
The poles and wires are currently designed for power to flow one way, from energy retailers to consumers, but the rise of distributed energy resources are changing that.
"Letting networks give customer incentives to use the system better means supply and demand on the grid can be smoothed out over the course of the day," Mr Barr said.
"It helps address large amounts of solar being exported in the middle of the day when it benefits the system least."
The draft changes are the result of months of negotiations with stakeholders.
It was ultimately put forward by a group including SA Power Networks, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria, Total Environment Centre and Australian Council of Social Service.
Feedback is open until May 13 ahead of a final decision on June 24.
Consultations with power companies and consumers will then start mid-year.
States and territories would then have at least two years to decide on plans with consumers before submitting it to the Australian Energy Regulator.
Final decisions will not be made until 2024 at the earliest.
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