On 2 September 2021, the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 (Bill) was introduced into the Federal Parliament. If passed, the proposed legislation will provide the Federal Government with a framework to licence parts of the Commonwealth offshore area, more than three miles offshore to the outer limit of Australia’s exclusive economic zone. The licensing regime will allow exploration, construction and operation of offshore renewable energy and transmission projects in these areas, while managing existing rights and infrastructure in the maritime area.
The Bill empowers the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction to grant three streams of licence options:
Under the Bill, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) will administer and regulate the framework. The quantum of levies to be imposed on licence holders has not yet been published.
The licensing regime is not a one-stop shop. Licence holders will likely need to comply with additional state or territory requirements for licensing infrastructure in coastal waters, connection to on-shore infrastructure and participation in the National Electricity Market. Additional legislation to support construction, operation and decommissioning of renewable energy projects in state and territory coastal waters will likely follow.
This Bill currently remains before the House of Representatives and has been referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry, with a report due on 14 October 2021.
We will provide a further update on the Bill following the Committee’s report.
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.