The Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023 (the Bill) was introduced to Parliament on 24 October 2023.
- If passed, the Bill would:
- Legislate renewable energy target of 50% in 2030, 70% by 2032, and 80% by 2035;
- mandate a public ownership strategy targeting 100% ownership of distribution, transmission, and prescribed deep storage assets, and equal to or more than 54% ownership of generation assets by 2035;
- establish the framework for the declaration and management of renewable energy zones (REZs);
- provide for the Job Security Guarantee Fund;
- establish governance arrangements and new advisory bodies.
- The Bill will now be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and the legislative process
Introduction of the Bill
Following consultation on an exposure draft (see HSF notes for details) the Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023 (Qld) was introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 24 October 2023 by the Hon Mick de Brenni, Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement.
The introduction of the Bill follows consultation on an exposure draft in which 91 individuals and organisations made submissions
A Consultation Summary Report was released following consultation which reports that:
- There is broad support for the policy intent
- Respondents encouraged greater fairness assurance across the Bill; and
- There should be a greater focus on social licence.
Key features of the Bill
Renewable energy targets
The Bill (Part 2 of the Bill) proposes the following as Queensland’s legislated renewable energy targets:
- 50% by 2030;
- 70% by 2032; and
- 80% by 2035.
These targets are to be reviewed every five years, and the Minister will decide upon the methodology used to calculate energy produced by renewable energy.
If legislated, Queensland will join the Commonwealth, South Australia, Northern Territory and Victoria with set renewable energy targets.
The Bill (Part 3 of the Bill) commits Government to maintaining public ownership of the Queensland energy system by requiring the Minister to prepare a public ownership strategy and report on progress against the targets. The public ownership strategy is to set out targets of 100% ownership of distribution, transmission, and deep storage assets, and equal to or more than 54% ownership of generation assets to be achieved by 2035. “Deep storage assets” must be capable of generating a minimum of 1,500MW for at least 24 hours and prescribed by regulation.
The SuperGrid (and relevant frameworks)
The Bill establishes legislative frameworks for delivery of the critical infrastructure outlined in the Queensland SuperGrid Infrastructure Blueprint (Infrastructure Blueprint) (Part 4 of the Bill).
The Priority Transmission Investment (PTI) framework is introduced (by Part 5 of the Bill) which modifies some parts of the current National Electricity Law (NEL) and National Electricity Rules (NER) to allow the State to identify, assess, build and recover costs for PTI projects, to support timely delivery of critical backbone transmission. The Responsible Minister must direct Powerlink to construct declared priority transmission investment. Development that is directed under a State law cannot be made assessable by a local planning instrument (e.g. a planning scheme), however it appears to be intended that other approvals will still be required.
The REZ framework is introduced (by Part 6 of the Bill) to declare parts of Queensland to be REZs, ensure the impact of REZs on Queensland communities is appropriately considered, provide for the coordinated and streamlined connection and access to transmission networks in REZs, and facilitate and support the development and operation of the transmission networks.
The Bill also enshrines the Job Security Guarantee Fund (in Part 7 of the Bill) to give certainty to energy workers affected by the energy transformation at publicly owned coal-fired power stations and prescribed facilities;
The Bill (in Part 13, Division 2) proposes amendments to the Electricity Act 1994 to assist in the deployment of new grid supporting technologies by generation, transmission and distribution entities under the Ministerial Infrastructure Designation process.
Minor amendments are also made to the following (in Part 13 of the Bill):
- Electricity––National Scheme (Queensland) Act 1997
- National Energy Retail Law (Queensland) Act
- Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004
The following new governance bodies are established to support industry, workers, and communities (Parts 8 to 10 of the Bill):
- the Queensland Energy System Advisory Board (the Board),
- To advise Government on updates to the Infrastructure Blueprint
- produce an annual progress statement to track progress against renewable energy targets, and the optimal infrastructure pathway in the Infrastructure Blueprint;
- the Energy Industry Council (the Council),
- to advise to the Minister on the intersection between the energy transformation and workforce issues for affected energy workers and their communities,
- advise the Minister on opportunities for employment in the renewable energy industry and the skills and training that will be necessary to build workforce capacity;
- the Queensland Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate (the Jobs Advocate),
- to advise the Minister on employment opportunities in the energy industry and strategies or incentives to encourage investors or employers to create such opportunities
- to advise on consultation and engagement with businesses and Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples in relation to how employment opportunities for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples could be increased.
The Explanatory Note to the Bill
The Statement of Compatibility with human rights
The second reading speech of the Minister at pp 3107 to 3115
The Consultation Summary Report released following consultation.
HSF Notes Article on the exposure draft
HSF Notes Article on Renewable Energy Zones
The Bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Transport and Resources Committee for examination and ultimately reporting to Parliament.
HSF will keep subscribers updated as to announcements and changes as well as impacts for businesses.
By Kathryn Pacey, Partner, and Samuel Colwell, Paralegal.