28 October 2002 – Australia’s electricity and gas industries need a single energy regulator, according to Minister for Resources Ian Macfarlane
Speaking on Monday at the Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA) national conference, Macfarlane said that currently there are 13 regulators for electricity, eight for gas and 17 covering both markets.
“I’m advocating a review of all the regulatory bodies, the dissolving of most and the merging of the remaining to form one single regulator responsible for the entire administration of Australia’s electricity and gas markets,” he said.
Macfarlane cited the 1998 Longford gas plant explosion in Victoria State, which killed two workers and cut supplies for two weeks, as an example of why electricity and gas regulation should be combined.
“Victoria couldn’t get other forms of energy to meet the consumer needs because electricity interconnection and pipeline investment simply wasn’t adequate,” he said.
However, APIA president Jim McDonald said that while the industry supports the idea of a single regulator he warned that such a body should only administer policy not make it.
“Regulators need to be constrained to a monitoring role in the transmission sector, and not seek to determine and control the relationship between this industry and its customers,” McDonald said.
According to Macfarlane, gas consumption currently represents 18 per cent of Australia’s primary energy consumption and is expected to grow to 24 per cent by 2020.