Recent events concerning the uncertainty of power supply and sub-optimal access to the electricity grid have prompted sharp responses from both state and federal governments seeking to address the perceived and actual shortcomings of this nationally significant infrastructure network.

Energy security is at the heart of this crucial issue.

The Chamber’s view is that the uninterrupted availability of energy at affordable prices is of paramount importance in building and sustaining strong and diverse economies. Energy security and reliability are fundamental to all businesses and consumers.

Last month we saw interruptions in power supply first-hand in the Hunter as a result of load shedding during heatwave conditions. This is widely regarded as unsatisfactory. When faced with uncertain situations like load shedding, sustainable business growth is hampered and negative impacts are felt by the whole community.

The Federal Government and Snowy Hydro’s announcement to upgrade the electricity generation scheme is an example of government intervention in an issue that affects both regional and national economies. The proposed Snowy Hydro upgrade involves increasing the current 4000 megawatt output of the program by 50 per cent and will “run into the billions of dollars”.

The upgrade plan is a positive step in addressing energy security and preventing power shortages in eastern states. This may ultimately reduce the price of power for the benefit of businesses and communities here and further afield.

But it’s only part of the solution. Improving national energy security needs a comprehensive, long-term strategy incorporating many issues.

Authorities like the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Energy Market Operator continue to investigate these issues. We monitor the work of these authorities in earnest.

The NSW Business Chamber is also working with the NSW Department of Industry regarding energy policy, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently delivered their submission about the independent review into the future security of the national electricity market to the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy. The Hunter Business Chamber strongly supports our peak state and national business associations in this regard.

Bob Hawes isCEO ofHunter Business Chamber

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