The following is an extract of the Commissioner’s 2022 Annual Report which includes a number of observations and recommendations for consideration in relation to the governance, development and operation of wind farm, solar farms and energy storage facilities.

  1. Host Landowner Negotiations
  2. Neighbour Consultation and Agreements
  3. Community Engagement
  4. Planning Permits – Time Limits and Scope Changes
  5. Governance and Compliance of Standards and Permit Conditions
  6. Use and selection of Experts
  7. Complaint Handling and Emergency Procedures
  8. Site Selection
  9. Health Matters

Glossary

Updated observations and recommendations

The Commissioner’s observations and recommendations for the large-scale renewable energy industry have been published in our previous Annual Reports. These observations and recommendations derived from the Commissioner’s direct experience of complaint handling, site visits, engagement with stakeholders and the identification of systemic issues. They covered topics including areas for potential improvement in project development, planning processes, construction, asset operations, as well as governance of and operation of the industry.

Our Office continues to receive feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on the Commissioner’s observations and recommendations. Much of the feedback is supportive and aligned with the recommendations. Many of the recommendations have been considered and implemented by stakeholders. We also receive constructive feedback, typically suggesting further refinements and clarifications to the recommendations.

The following sections are updates to our 2021 observations and recommendations, including additional observations since that report was published in July 2022. These updates are based on our experience of complaint handling, further site visits, stakeholder and governance meetings and feedback received on our 2021 report. Further, as our role was expanded in 2021 to include new, large-scale high voltage transmission projects for the first time, we have expanded our specific observations and recommendations on this critical segment of our role.

For consistency and ease of reference, the following sections utilise the same topic areas and numbering system employed in the 2021 report.

The recommendations detailed below are intended for consideration by the relevant stakeholders. The Commissioner has no formal powers to mandate the implementation of these recommendations. However, the Commissioner looks forward to the ongoing assessment, acceptance and adoption of the recommendations, in the spirit of ongoing continuous improvement within the large-scale transmission and renewable energy industries.
The large-scale renewable energy industry is still relatively new in Australia, with the first major wind farm developments commencing in the early 2000’s and large-scale solar projects commencing in the last decade. However, these industries are developing rapidly, and our Office has observed the acceleration of new project permit requests and approvals in the past few years. 

While the planning, development and deployment of large-scale transmission projects is not a new industry, it has not been undertaken on this scale in Australia for about 40 years. The institutional memory on how to roll out such infrastructure has largely dissipated over time, and we are essentially dealing with a rebuild of that industry and expertise.

Therefore, opportunities will continue to exist for further improvement in the governance and operation of these industries, from landholder relations through to work-place safety. Nevertheless, substantial progress has been made against our recommendations in recent times.