Community consultation key to developing renewable energy infrastructure

The Albanese Government is establishing a Community Engagement Review to bolster reforms in community engagement around renewable energy infrastructure upgrades and new developments.

The Community Engagement Review will be led by Andrew Dyer, the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner (AEIC) and report to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy in December 2023.

The review will provide advice on the best way to maximise engagement and benefit in planning, developing and operating energy infrastructure, including for communities, landowners and First Nations people.

Many of our traditional energy assets are aging. Upgrades and new builds, like transmission lines and renewable energy zones, are essential. They enable us to maintain energy security and deliver cleaner and cheaper energy.

Energy policy chaos saw 4GW of dispatchable power leave the grid over the past decade, with only 1GW to replace it – we need to ensure we have the energy infrastructure to keep the lights on today and into the future.

While these changes are needed, communities need a better say, and better information in this process, which is why this review adds to this work already underway:

•    Expanding the office of the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner
•    Changing the electricity rules to improve how communities are engaged including in:
      o    Identifying optimal route selection
      o    Discussing landholder concerns
      o    Ensuring transparency and appropriate engagement in the planning process
•    Reforming the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) – including increased obligations around community engagement
•    Developing Best Practice Guidelines for community engagement through the National Energy Transformation Partnership.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen said this Community Engagement Review is the next step in ensuring our energy market rules and reforms are fit for purpose to engage communities properly on energy infrastructure projects.

"The government is working with states, territories, communities, market bodies, and energy companies to ensure community consultation on new energy infrastructure isn’t just a tick-a-box exercise” Minister Bowen said.

"Our reforms are focused on giving better information to landholders and communities about their rights, involving communities earlier and more effectively, and properly handling any complaints.”

To find out more about the review into energy developments head to…