COAG Powers – playing ball EPBC, Energy Market Reform

A business’s focus should not just be on project management, which is a reactive stance, but ’project mastery’ – this includes not allowing stakeholders to tug it in a multitude of directions, making it impossible to set clear goals and deliver the goods on time – finding the balance between sticking to the original plan and remaining flexible – avoiding ‘score creep’ (where the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled) – and keeping to the path. Says The Harvard Business Review as sent out by Caring for our Country’s Garry Reynolds.

Linking how this could affect the effectiveness of the intention of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) intentions (Meeting – Communiqué Canberra, 7 December 2012) from its 34th meeting in Canberra [As a note COAG has for 20 years been meeting to discuss Business and politics]. You could wonder it COAG can deliver despite it continues to reiterate its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

If we focus on COAG Environment and Energy Reforms:

Posted on December 7, 2012 by co2landEPBC Powers – COAG passing the ball?” where we raised an analogy over federalism and enterprise models and “If you translate that to Federal and State and Territory government workings, you might see the possibility of a run away train through select enterprise if the influence is replaced by vested interest other than the good of society, or our long term future”, and then recently COAG, on Environmental Regulation Reform, “re-affirmed its commitment to broad environmental regulation reform that enhances efficiency and increases certainty for business, while maintaining high environmental standards”. It follows that the Commonwealth will progress its legislative reforms in response to “the Hawke review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to further streamline and strengthen environmental regulation”.

As we previously said COAG wants to articulate ‘standards’ that the Commonwealth has proposed and that State and Territory processes would need to meet these standards as ‘accredited’ arrangements. COAG writes it “represent an important milestone in COAG’s reform agenda” and “Jurisdictions have made consistent efforts to improve regulatory arrangements, including increased use of strategic tools and commitment to early engagement with proponents.  COAG welcomed the release of the Commonwealth’s Statement of Environmental and Assurance Outcomes and draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation”.

The issue may be in the following: “As a further step to improving processes relating to environmental regulation, COAG agreed that all jurisdictions will direct their regulatory and referral agencies to eliminate duplication and to avoid sequential assessments and delayed approval processes and also to utilise common information requirements for both assessments and approvals”. The operative being co-operation and avoiding ‘score creep’ as states and territories are known to seek.

Energy Market Reform, in 1996 we saw the introduction of the National Energy Market (NEM) and its strong appeal was for urgent and concrete action to reduce the price of energy through ‘contestability’. In 2012, “ COAG noted the strong call by business for urgent and concrete action on energy market reform to help moderate the impact of high electricity prices on consumers and business, particularly the need for greater access to more flexible pricing”.   While the concepts differ in that contestability was the original answer to lower energy rices, in particular Electricity prices, what COAG has now endorsed is a more comprehensive package of energy market reforms for jurisdictions in the National Electricity Market than in 1996. In this instance ‘reliability standards’ are to be addressed additional to rules and price.

Set up for the job of the reforms are, “the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER), with advice from the Business Advisory Forum (BAF) Taskforce.  In addition to agreeing to the recommendations from SCER and the BAF Taskforce, COAG agreed in principle to adopt the new best-practice framework for reliability standards (to be developed by the Australian Energy Market Commission and which give primacy to affordability for consumers at agreed levels of reliability and take account of regional considerations) and to transfer responsibility for applying the framework to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), with a final decision by the end of 2013”.

It is additional funding from the Commonwealth that is being made available to enable the AER to review “its resources, independence and operational arrangements”.

COAG secretariat acknowledges the full implementation of the reform agenda (to be taken forward by Energy Ministers), “will take sustained commitment over time”, and the oversighting progress needs to be vigilant.  Further details on the reform package are available at www.coag.gov.au.

It should also be noted the domestic gas market is not forgotten and “COAG requested SCER to provide advice to its next meeting on challenges facing domestic gas markets”.

A bit more from Caring for Our Country co-ordinator, Garry Reynolds:

The International Energy Agency is projecting a glut of energy as the US becomes the largest producer of oil and an exporter of gas – CO2 emissions will continue to grow, but energy efficiency could help buy us time in addressing climate change and save money. Source: Climate Spectator 13 Nov 12.

Global demand for fossil fuels, especially coal, is forecast to grow strongly – yet carbon emissions will have to peak soon if the worst of climate change is to be avoided – coal met 45% of the growth in global energy demand between 2001-11 – roughly triple the contribution from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

Australia is betting big on the expansion of coal as the world’s 4th largest producer (6% of the world’s coal production) – committed projects to expand coal capacity total $9.8 billion for ports and $16.7 billion for mines – the Government is hoping that the long term development of carbon capture and storage will mitigate the greenhouse effects of the expansion.  Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

Because of the variability of wind and solar power, every 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy production capacity needs 600 megawatts of coal or gas power as a backup. Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

The US glut of cheap natural gas is leading major coalminers to look to the construction of new ports on the US West Coast to massively increase exports to Asia. Source New Scientist 13 Oct 12.

Hydro Tasmania is the largest generator of clean energy in Australia. Source Planet Ark 24 Oct 12.

Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target has delivered $18.5 billion in investment, with the potential for $18.7 billion more if the policy is retained in its current form according to the Clean Energy Council – it is cutting emissions and paying for itself. Source  REneweconomy 25Oct 12.

And, the best for last : ‘Innovation is obvious in hindsight and radical in foresight’ Hargraves Institute 23 Oct 12.

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