AEMC's Strategic Plan

A message from Anna and Benn

Anna Collyer


Benn Barr

Chief Executive

It is a privilege to be responsible for rule-making and expert advice as the Australian energy sector undergoes fundamental change in how energy is used, created, delivered, sold and stored.

As the energy sector transitions to net-zero emissions, future energy supply will be driven by cheaper renewable energy. Cheaper decarbonised electricity allows the economy to electrify. Getting the transition right paves the way to decarbonising the economy, providing economic stimulus and benefiting all consumers. Our new strategic plan aims to answer the question – how can we make the best contribution in our role towards ensuring the energy sector underpins Australia’s future living standards and economic growth?

When the Commission was established in 2005 the sector in Australia was vastly different. The power system was characterised by large geographically-concentrated generators, delivering energy one way to a passive consumer base. A massive transition is happening now that is actually three separate transitions all at once. We are now moving from thermal plants to renewable inverter-based generators. We are also moving from large generators to smaller, more dispersed generators and finally from passive to active consumers. Energy is moving two ways with Australian consumers having the fastest rate of solar uptake in the world. As technology and digitalisation advances, in 10 years’ time it will be different again.

Not only is change happening but the pace of change is accelerating. In the Commission’s first year we did 24 rule changes and reviews. Last year we completed 70 rule changes and reviews, and several projects as part of the Energy Security Board’s work program. How do we, as the organisation responsible for expert policy advice and making the rules that underpin the system, best contribute in this environment?

Starting as we mean to continue, this strategic plan was developed through a highly collaborative process with all Commissioners and staff, and we drew from input from our key stakeholders across government, consumer groups, industry and market bodies for their valuable insight and views as we developed our plan.

As part of our strategic planning process, we identified two key uncertainties that we need to grapple with.

The first is the level of coordination in responding to climate change both in Australia and internationally, and how this impacts the energy sector as it decarbonises. The second is the pace, nature, and scale of disruption that new technologies will bring to the Australian energy sector and how this can both impact and empower consumers. Navigating these two key uncertainties will be critical to the success of the Commission during this time of unprecedented change. Uncertainty brings challenges in making rules that address the critical issues of today but also have the right flexibility to set up the market for an evolving future. It also brings opportunity.

Never in its existence has the role of the Commission in being forward looking and thinking about the long term been as important as it is today.

Getting the settings right now for the future energy market opens up the potential for enormous benefits from cleaner, smarter, affordable and reliable energy.

We know through talking to our stakeholders that they value the Commission’s technical expertise and our rigorous open and transparent rule-making process. We also know that they see we can get better at how we engage and listen, our connection to their issues and how we apply our deep knowledge in practical ways.

Our strategic plan outlines how we will navigate through these key uncertainties. We understand that the transformation and pace of change of the sector means we need to adapt our key skills and apply them in different ways to continue to add real benefits for energy consumers.

Uncertainty means we need a different and adaptable approach in how we make decisions. We have identified three key areas where we can adapt what we do to focus on how we add more value in an uncertain world. These are being more practical in our decision making, always being forward thinking and being collaborative and inclusive in all that we do.

If we get these things right, we maximise our chance of providing clarity and direction for the sector through changing times.

Being more practical

We will focus on what works, on how rules interact with consumer behaviour, and develop rules and advice that take into account what is happening in the sector and how things are implemented in a complex, evolving world.

Being forward thinking

In a rapidly changing world we need to be smarter about the problems we tackle and how we solve them. Today’s solution needs to fit with what is happening tomorrow and in 10 years’ time. A strength of the Commission is being able to take a view of the entire sector and look forward in our advice, in our analysis and in how we make rules. We need to make sure they fit together with the long-term direction of the sector.

Being collaborative

Constantly adapting the way we collaborate with all our stakeholders so that our engagement is truly two-way and ongoing. Different perspectives are essential to solving complex problems that come with the transition. We will only be successful and achieve better outcomes by hearing and working through the issues from different points of view. Our job isn’t to have all the answers but to deliver the right solutions together.

Of course, our people are the key to the success of this strategy, and that’s why we are continuing to invest in our staff’s capability and wellbeing

We are lucky to have an exceptionally talented and purpose-driven group of professionals committed to delivering the best outcomes for consumers as a new energy future evolves.

We look forward to working together to meet these challenges and taking the great opportunities that lie ahead in delivering benefits for all consumers during this time of transformation.

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