THE NATIONAL Irrigators' Council continues to lobby hard to ensure energy market is not distorted against big agricultural energy users.
The NIC welcomed this week's release of the Energy Security Board's final advice to relevant energy ministers on how a post-2025 market design for the National Energy Market could look.
NIC chief executive Isaac Jeffrey said it was critical agriculture was heard in the energy debate and that large agricultural users were recognised as large commercial and industrial users which would keep energy prices for the sector more competitive.
"As the energy market undergoes transition, agriculture food and fibre producers need to be assured that rural industries will not be unfairly disadvantaged with high energy costs that make their businesses unsustainable," Mr Jeffrey said.
He said NIC continued to push for a capped price.
"It has long been the aspiration of National Irrigators' Council of a price objective of a medium to long term price capped at 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electrons (R) and a similar ceiling of 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the network (N)," he said.
He said that agriculture had specific and unique needs in terms of its energy requirements, especially in terms of energy infrastructure.
"We highlight the particular needs of the agriculture sector and regional communities in all elements of market and grid design, including structure and costs to facilitate rural consumers and the agricultural sector taking up new technology and being connected to the grid.
"This includes technologies that can be rolled out on a scale which will make their use viable on farms and in agricultural processing."
He said he was heartened by the ESB report.
"NIC welcomes the ESB recognition of the issue to be addressed - and that is essential system services and ahead scheduling - to ensure that the essential services are available to maintain system security.
He said NIC would like to see a shake-up of National Energy Market (NEM) rules.
"Under current arrangements, frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) are called upon to stabilise the grid, though there is something very wrong with NEM rules where the cost of providing FCAS is passed on to consumers, and for large agriculture industry customers, these costs are significant."
"It will be important that agriculture industries are included in the cohort of large commercial and industrial energy consumers.
He said there was a need for agricultural energy users to provide a regional and rural implications statement in regards to the ESB plans detailing the likely impact of the proposal or reform.
"The agriculture sector needs policy and regulatory frameworks that do not impede the take up of new technologies, for example, making grid connection and microgrids practical and affordable.
Cost remains a critical concern.
"We caution against the imposition of exaggerated costs associated with unwarranted and unnecessary regulation in market design development."
"It is critical that the management of costs for consumers remain front and centre with the right market design and forward planning for implementation."
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