What do generation owners and operators in Australia need to know about compliance monitoring programs?
Australia has a rather long and skinny network as compared to dense and interconnected networks in Europe, which calls for a consistently unique regulatory context. Peter Brown, New Zealand General Manager from PSC, walks us through the compliance monitoring guidelines generation owners and operators within and outside Australia have to know.
Regulations are in place to protect one of the world’s largest energy networks, considering its inadequate interconnections, so it remains secure and stable. Recent and prospective entrants into the Australian generation market ought to be aware of these de facto regulations, in particular the compliance obligations that are necessary but often overlooked aspect of owning generation assets.
Compliance obligations go hand in hand with Generator Performance Standards (GPS), and no generator is exempt from complying with these established regulations. Hence, whether you are a new generator owner or you are just replacing the current one, you have to first ensure that the GPS agree with the transmission service provider, Brown explains. This is important so that the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) can be certain that generators in a specific area will not threaten or affect the existing conditions in that same area.
The process, however, does not stop with setting up and meeting the obligations; compliance plans, have to be regularly updated to reflect any updates in the plant. ‘Living documents’ as Brown describes them, as an operator may need to change these documents every now and then to ensure compliance requirements are met, especially when changes are introduced by the AEMC, which the commission can do at any given time.
Likewise, it is equally necessary that changes, including control system upgrades, are reported, otherwise, generators may be tagged with non-compliance. “Any change which can potentially affect the plant’s operation can be ground for non-compliance. The same goes for control system upgrades, which may not replace the plant but changes it and thus can make the plant behave differently,” Brown highlights.
Audits can happen at any time, so it is best, Brown suggests, for operators to always be vigilant in terms of compliance reviews. These random audits, though, do not necessarily mean a generator has failed or committed a mistake, they can also be because the generator hasn’t been previously audited or there are issues in the network where the generator is located.
Hence, awareness of compliance obligations in Australia allows current and prospective generation asset owners to be more prepared to meet the requirements for investors. PSC provides technical advice on complying with such guidelines, especially to offshore or new investors, investors buying turnkey facilities, and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) from countries outside Australia as they are new to the energy context in the country.
To hear the full recording of this interview, visit Enlit Asia’s Expert Insights Series, Episode 5.
You may also check out PSC’s whitepaper titled “What You Need to Know about Australia’s Generator Compliance Obligations” here.