Breakthrough review of Victoria’s failed electricity network regulations

The Victorian Government has finally recognised the gravity of the dangers from the weak regulation of safety in our electricity networks. 

This follows years of declining asset condition and performance, as well as fault-related fires, all while Victorian consumers are paying for maintenance they’re not getting.

The evidence for these trends has been largely buried by the regulators, especially Energy Safe Victoria, who are largely responsible for the dangerous state of the network.

ETU members having their say 

The ETU spent 2016 undertaking extensive research and consultation with members to summarise and present to government and stakeholders the true gravity of the situation.

The ETU and its members have decades of experience across many jurisdictions of different regulatory models that are more effective than the current substandard Victorian regulations. As such we expect to take a leading role in providing expertise and evidence to the review.

Many of you participated in surveys, consultation and production of materials for communicating the state of crisis of Victoria’s electricity network. This information was critical in substantiating the need for this review.

Next steps

The next step is to ensure this review does in fact recommend and deliver the reforms the sector and Victorians desperately need.

Please take note of the following scope and timeline of the review. We will stay in communication with you and look forward to your participation throughout 2017.

Review of Victoria’s Electricity Network Safety Framework

Time line

 March 2017   Release of the review’s ‘issues paper’
 March–May 2017   Submissions to the review on views of ‘issues paper’ open
 Early April 2017   Community and Industry Consultation Forum
 Mid–late 2017   Interim report released for public comment
 Late 2017   Final report and recommendations to the minister

Scope of the review
The review is intended to examine the safety framework applicable to the electricity network in Victoria.

The review will consider:
  • the objectives of the safety framework in Victoria and an assessment of its effectiveness in achieving electricity network safety outcomes
  • the design and adequacy of the safety regulatory obligations (including safety cases and the Electricity Safety Management Scheme), incentives and other arrangements governing energy network businesses and any opportunities for improvement
  • the extent to which the regulatory framework governing network safety ensures effective risk management by energy network businesses the effectiveness of the regulator and governance arrangements in place to monitor and enforce compliance with safety obligations by energy network businesses
  • any other matters that the chair considers relevant.
In undertaking the review, the chair will have regard to:
  • best practice electricity safety and risk management frameworks in other jurisdictions, including nationally and internationally
  • the relationship between the safety regime and the economic regulatory regime to ensure a balance between safety objectives and economic impacts including the cost impost on consumers.

Review governance

The review will be chaired by an independent chair, Mr Paul Grimes, whose speciality is public sector industry policies and procedures.

The review is being undertaken within the Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning.

The responsible minister is the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP, the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

This article is from the Autumn 2017 issue of the ETU's members magazine. You can read the digital edition here.