22 May 2023
Essential Energy achieved a significant milestone in our transition to a low carbon energy future in February, with the launch of our first grid scale network battery in Sovereign Hills, just west of Port Macquarie.
The battery, developed in partnership with AGL, will help manage growing energy demand in the local community and enable customers to export more solar to the network. Importantly, the trial will support our capability growth to use electricity storage across the network, to solve local voltage variation, capacity limitations and increase exports from rooftop solar installations.
Batteries store electricity that is generated during low demand periods and release it back into the grid during peak periods when network demand is high. It is becoming an increasingly critical element for managing a higher volume of renewables and network constraints.
Approximately 30% of connected customers on the Essential Energy network have solar installations and this is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. In addition, 42 large-scale renewable generation sites are connected to our network. Nine of these were connected in the last two years, with more under development, including the 145MW Flyers Creek wind farm near Orange.
Additional renewable generation and increased battery storage improves utilisation of the network and, with improved real time data on network operations and the use of new technologies such as Digital Twin modelling, we have better insight into our network capacity and performance. This facilitates the development of a more efficient and resilient network capable of meeting our customers’ future needs.
To learn more on both the Sovereign Hills battery trial and Digital Twin read ‘Marking a Renewable Energy Milestone’ and ‘Digital Twin Increases Opportunities for Renewable Energy’.
In January we submitted our 2024-29 Regulatory Proposal to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). We thank the many customers and stakeholders throughout New South Wales who provided their time to guide us in the development of this proposal.
Based on consistent feedback and support from customers we are proposing some increases in capital expenditure for network investment to improve resilience and utilisation over the next regulatory period (2024 – 2029), which would result in a modest network charge increases. This reflects customer feedback that these investments as the most cost effective in the long run. To learn more read ‘Designing the Future of Energy Together.’
Essential Energy’s annual price increase, to come into effect 1 July 2023, has been approved by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). If passed on in full by retailers, customers will see an increase of approximately 3.75 per cent to their overall electricity bills, with network charges increasing on average by 7.52 per cent. Depending on a customer’s tariff, typical residential customers may see an increase in network charges of between $18.38 and $22.50 per quarterly bill.
While this increase has primarily been driven by inflation, it is less than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 7.83 per cent (December 2022) when the proposal was submitted to the AER.
Many customers are experiencing financial hardship. We encourage all customers to speak to their retailer if they need support with paying their electricity bill, and to shop around for the best deal. Energymadeeasy.gov.au is a website operated by the AER to assist with finding the best electricity retail offering.
Finally, I was privileged to attend the one-year anniversary of the Northern Rivers floods at the Lismore depot in early March. On behalf of our broader business and customers I thanked our local crews for their incredible efforts. Our response didn’t stop last year when the waters subsided, with work having continued months after the event to finalise repairs, upgrades and resilience of the network. Our efforts were strongly supported by local communities across the North Coast, with different businesses and service clubs accommodating, feeding and providing storage for our teams and equipment throughout.
I want to thank our employees for all they have done to help our local communities recover from the devastating event, but also thank the local communities who have supported our efforts.
In this edition
Digital Twin increases opportunities for renewable energy
Extra efforts for safety, reliability, and resilience
Designing the future of energy together
Marking a renewable energy milestone
New recruits excitement at hometown careers
100 years and standing strong