Connection and operation as a transmission or distribution entity
In some instances you may decide to construct, own and operate the infrastructure necessary to connect your project to a network. If this infrastructure extends beyond the boundaries of your land, you will require an appropriate authority to operate the infrastructure.
A transmission authority allows you to operate a transmission grid and may also authorise you to connect your transmission grid to another transmission grid. A distribution authority allows you to supply electricity using a supply network within the distribution area stated in the authority.
A transmission or distribution authority:
- is required where the transmission or distribution activities will be the primary activity of your company
- may be required where third parties will connect to your network
- allows you to access the Community Infrastructure Designation process for planning approval.
Particular obligations exist for transmission and distribution authority holders. The rights and obligations of authority holders are outlined in Chapter 2 of the Electricity Act 1994 (Electricity Act).
Flowchart showing order of processes
You can download a flowchart of the processes and requirements (PDF, 86KB). The blue boxes represent processes or requirements under Queensland legislation. The green boxes represent processes or requirements under national legislation.
Applying for the relevant authority
Apply to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy for a distribution or transmission authority. Chapter 9 of the Electricity Act provides the legislative basis for the Regulator to issue an authority, the matters about which the Regulator must be satisfied prior to issuing an authority and application requirements. Transmission authorities are addressed in Chapter 9 part 2, and distribution authorities in Chapter 9 part 3 of the Electricity Act.
We recommend you contact the department to discuss your project and determine which authority is most appropriate for your situation prior to submitting your application. The department can also provide you with guidance on the application process prior to submitting your application for an authority.
As a guide, in view of the legislative requirement to undertake a public consultation process, please allow a minimum of 4 months for the consideration of an application for a transmission or distribution authority.
Access to land
Under section 115 of the Electricity Act, the Minister may, by gazette notice, authorise an electricity entity (and its employees and agents) to enter onto land, and remain on it for as long as necessary, to decide the suitability of the land for the entity's proposed works.
As a transmission or distribution authority holder you may apply to the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy for authority to enter onto land for proposed works under section 115 of the Electricity Act. If granted, this allows you to enter specified land to determine its suitability for proposed works.
Learn more about electricity laws and regulations.
Connecting to the grid
Contact the relevant network service provider (NSP) to discuss:
- connection options
- connection process
- technical requirements.
Connection to the national grid will need to follow the process required under Chapter 5 of the National Electricity Rules (NER).
Step 1: Connection enquiry
The first step in connecting to the national grid is to make a connection enquiry to the relevant NSP. Your connection enquiry should include the type, magnitude and timing of the proposed connection to the network. The NSP will provide a written response outlining the information that must be provided in the application to connect.
Step 2: Application to connect
Any person who has made a connection enquiry, and has received a response from the NSP, may then make an application to connect.
Step 3: Negotiate access standards
Your application to connect must include a negotiated access standard proposal that specifies any technical requirements that do not meet the automatic access standard.
Step 4: Negotiate connection agreement
The NSP must make an offer to connect for all applications submitted at the automatic access standard or for which a negotiated access standard is agreed. The offer to connect must be consistent with, and no more onerous than, the conditions in the schedules to Chapter 5 of the NER. Additionally, proposed terms and conditions must meet the applicable minimum access standards for the proposed plant, as advised by the NSP and set out in schedule 5.2 of the NER.
If you wish to accept the offer to connect, you must negotiate a connection agreement with the relevant NSP. The negotiated connection agreement is to include performance standards and any preconditions such as environmental and planning approvals.
You, and the NSP, must jointly advise the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) of a new connection agreement within 20 business days of execution of the agreement.
Planning and construction
As the owner of the infrastructure, you will be responsible for all aspects of the planning and construction process. This includes:
- network design
- corridor selection
- environmental assessments
- planning approvals
- acquisition of land and easements
- obtaining any permits and/or wayleaves necessary for construction.
Complete the preliminary design activities necessary to undertake environmental assessment and to obtain planning approval, for example finalising route selection prior to commencing environmental assessment and consultation or applying for planning approval.
You will need to obtain planning approval for your project. Local governments are responsible for assessing most development applications in their local area and are the main contact on local planning and development matters.
Other environmental assessment
In some cases the project may require environmental approval under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, depending on the environmental values of the land. We recommend you contact the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy for further information prior to preparing your application for planning approval.
Following planning approval and acquisition of land, fine tuning of the infrastructure design should be completed.
Clearing permits and wayleaves
Ensure any permits and wayleaves identified through planning and consultation with state agencies during the planning application process have been obtained prior to construction.
Read the requirements for clearing vegetation. This requirement does not apply to clearing for operating works on land designated as land for community infrastructure, see section 112A of the Electricity Act.
Necessary land and easements should be acquired through commercial negotiations with the relevant landowners where possible.
A transmission or distribution authority holder may be able to access compulsory acquisition powers under the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 (Acquisition of Land Act). In order to access the powers within the Acquisition of Land Act, you will first need to apply to the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy for the authority to acquire land for the purposes of section 116 of the Electricity Act. This authority will provide constructing authority status for the purposes of the Acquisition of Land Act.
We recommend you contact the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy for further information regarding taking easements, compulsory acquisition of land and state land. Relevant information includes the Land Titles Practice Manual (Queensland) – Part 9 Easement and the easement policy Easement PUX/901/527.
Construction is to occur in accordance with the network connection agreement and planning approvals.
Once construction has finished, and prior to commencing operation, the project proponent will be required to conduct commissioning tests in conjunction with the relevant NSP. Chapter 5 of the NER outlines the processes to be undertaken prior to and during commissioning tests.
Registering with AEMO
You will need to either register with AEMO as a network service provider or apply for an exemption from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). You may also need to register as a market customer with AEMO if purchasing electricity directly from the wholesale National Electricity Market.
Laws and regulations affecting the electricity industry
The following list of Acts may be relevant to your project:
- Electricity Act 1994
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth)
- Electrical Safety Act 2002
- Environmental Protection Act 1994
- Planning Act 2016
- Vegetation Management Act 1999
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
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