NSW Energy Security Taskforce

About the Energy Security Taskforce

On Tuesday 21 February 2017, NSW Energy and Utilities Minister the Hon. Don Harwin MLC announced the establishment of a new NSW Energy Security Taskforce.

The taskforce will look at how NSW manages energy security and resilience, including readiness, planning, preparation and response capability to extreme events such as weather.

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Mary O’Kane AC, has been appointed Chair of the taskforce that will report to Minister Harwin. Professor O'Kane is joined on the Taskforce by former NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens and Dr Brian Spalding, a commissioner on the Australian Energy Market Commission.

“My top priority as Energy Minister is to ensure that we maintain a secure energy supply for the people of NSW in their homes and workplaces,” Mr Harwin said. “We have a diversified and interconnected energy system that held up in the recent heatwave but I won’t be complacent. Households and businesses should know that the Government is actively pursuing this issue.”

The taskforce will:

  • assess the risks to and resilience of the NSW electricity system (including the transmission and distribution networks) from extreme weather events in the context of a changing climate
  • review the adequacy of the State’s management of electricity system security events including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
  • make recommendations on actions to address any vulnerabilities identified and/or opportunities for improvements to current practices

Professor Mary O’Kane said NSW needs to be fully prepared for any energy security event, and be able to respond and recover effectively from issues that might arise.

"This is a very important, timely piece of work because as recent events across Australia have highlighted it is critical that households and industry have a resilient electricity system," Professor O'Kane said.

The Taskforce has and continues to engage broadly with stakeholders.

Its initial report was released on 22 May 2017 with its final report due before the end of the year.

This work will complement the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market led by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, of which Professor Mary O’Kane is a member of the Expert Panel.

Terms of Reference - Energy Security Taskforce

Extreme weather events, such as the heatwave conditions across NSW over January and February 2017, place significant demands on the State’s electricity infrastructure. They highlight the need for best practice long term planning, as well as the need to ensure that the State is well placed to prevent, respond and recover from events when they occur.

The planning and management for extreme weather events is complex. There is the interaction between national and State energy regulatory frameworks and responsibilities, as well as the need to ensure coordination across all elements of the supply chain – market operator, transmission and distribution networks, retailers and customers. The complexity of arrangements for managing high risk events across the national electricity market, networks and jurisdictions has been highlighted by the Reliability Panel in its recent Review of the System Restart Standard.

Energy plays a key role in NSW’s State Emergency Management framework. The Review will need to complement work taking place in this area.

Scope of review

The review will:
1.assess the risks to and resilience of the NSW electricity system (including the transmission and distribution networks), from extreme weather events in the context of a changing climate
2.review the adequacy of the State’s management of electricity system security events including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
3.make recommendations on actions to address any vulnerabilities identified and/or opportunities for improvements in current practices

In undertaking this work, the Taskforce will have regard to NSW and ACT Regional Climate Modelling projections. The Taskforce will consider the costs and benefits of any recommendations.


The review is to provide a draft report by the first half of 2017 and a final report by the end of 2017. The review should complement any broader emergency management work being undertaken across the NSW Government.

There is significant work being undertaken by the COAG Energy Council, Australian Energy Market Commission, Australian Energy Market Operator and Australian Energy Regulator. The Taskforce draw on this work and focus on areas particularly related to NSW which are not the remit of these other work programs.

The Taskforce should draw on the expertise of a wide range of stakeholders including the NSW transmission and distribution network businesses, AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator), AEMC (Australian Energy Market Commission), and other National Electricity Market state and territory regulators.

Initial Report - May 2017

The Taskforce released its initial report on 22 May 2017 which has found NSW is reasonably well placed to deal with reliability and security risks under ‘normal conditions’. However, large spikes in demand and problems with supply that sometimes occur during extreme weather events, such as February's heatwave, pose challenges for our electricity system and, indeed, the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Professor O’Kane said the Taskforce has recommended the Government take steps to minimise potential risks ahead of next summer.

“There is a tremendous opportunity here for NSW to show strong leadership on what is an issue of national importance: our energy security,” Professor O’Kane said. “There are emerging risks that require prudent and proactive planning, including the forecast of hotter, longer and more frequent heatwaves; changes to the energy generation mix; and industry concerns about fuel availability, including coal and gas."

The Taskforce has made seven formal recommendations to Government:

  1. That the NSW Government, through the Premier and Minister, take a leadership role in COAG and the COAG Energy Council to encourage the states and Commonwealth to have a national policy approach to climate change and the integration of renewables within the National Electricity Market, to safeguard energy security and reliability.
  2. That the NSW Government work with AEMO to ensure that, in producing its revised Energy Adequacy Assessment Projections (EAAP) in May-June 2017, AEMO pay particular attention to the generator fuel positions so that the market can see in aggregate if there is sufficient fuel in the system and anticipate major changes. If the system is tight, this will be visible to participants, policy makers and market agencies, and may incentivise additional fuel contracting or investment in new generation.
  3. That Government improve the speed and ease with which it can respond to an energy emergency, including revising legislative provisions where necessary.
  4. That Government improve the structural processes underpinning the management of energy emergencies in NSW and ensure a stronger link between energy management and emergency management.
  5. That Government improve procedures for operational communications during energy emergencies in NSW, including communication to the public, and ensure these procedures are well-practised.
  6. That Government support industry and the community to prepare for, manage, and mitigate risks during energy emergencies, including providing guidance on how to reduce demand effectively during peak periods.
  7. That Government establish a working group (including representatives of the Commonwealth and ACT Governments) to develop new protocols for agencies to reduce demand and increase behind-the-meter supply during periods of peak energy use (‘Code Warm’ protocol).

Download the full report here!

Experts assisting the Taskforce

Dr Brian Spalding

Brian is currently one of the Commissioners (part time) at the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC). He was formerly Chief Executive Officer of the National Electricity Market Management Company (the predecessor of the Australian Energy Market Operator) with responsibility for the National Electricity Market and power system for south-eastern Australia; and then Executive General Manager Operations of the Australian Energy Market Operator. He holds a Degree in Science, an Honours Degree in Engineering (University Medal) and is a Doctor of Philosophy in Power System Analysis from the University of New South Wales.

There is precedent for AEMC Commissioners, subject to availability and no conflicts of interest, working on other projects in addition to their Commissioner role.

Dave Owens, Managing Director, Risk-e Business Consultants

David established Risk-e Business Consultants, an Executive Level Management Consultancy, when he retired as Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Force after over 30 years of service. During his time in the Police Force, Dave David was appointed to the legislative role of State Emergency Operations Controller (SEOCON) and performed this position for some four years, making him the longest serving officer in this role. As SEOCON, he was responsible for overall emergency management responses within the New South Wales.

Since leaving the Police Force, David has been a consultant to the NSW and ACT Governments on Investigations, Policy Development and Emergency Management in the areas of mining and transport (Sydney Metro-formally North West Rail Link). David has also worked with the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (investigations and policy advice).

Making a Submission to the Taskforce

The Energy Security Taskforce invites interested stakeholders from across government, industry, business and community sectors to make submissions to inform its inquiries.

Interested individuals and organisations are encouraged to make submissions before Friday 21 April 2017; however, as with all reviews undertaken by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, submissions will continue to be accepted for the duration of the Taskforce.

Submissions can be lodged electronically via energy.taskforce@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au OR via post to:

NSW Energy Security Taskforce
c/o Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer
GPO Box 5477

Published Submissions

Please note: all submissions to the Taskforce will be published on this website unless marked "Confidential".

Submission #NameOrganisationDownload
001Aden Ridgeway, ChairmanParadigm Resources Pty LtdClick here
002J.F. Brett RFD ED Click here
Professor John Quiggin, ARC Laureate Fellow
 Click here
004Rob Murray-Leach, Head of Policy Energy Efficiency CouncilClick here
005Roger Whitby, Chief Operating OfficerSnowy Hydro LimitedClick here
006Matt Howell, Chief Executive OfficerTomago Aluminium Company Pty LtdClick here
Click here
007Kevin Ly, Head of Wholesale RegulationSnowy Hydro LimitedClick here
008Rod Howard, Acting Chief Executive OfficerEndeavour Energy Click here
010John Griffiths, Chief Executive OfficerGas Energy AustraliaClick here
011John Cleland, Chief Executive OfficerEssential EnergyClick here
012Warring Neilsen, Manager - Corporate AffairsElgasClick here
013Shaun Reardon, Executive General ManagerJemenaClick here
Click here
Click here
014Craig Memery
Energy & Water Policy Team Leader
Public Interest Advocacy CentreClick here
Click here
015Dr Tim Nelson, Chief EconomistAGLClick here
016Rob Sindel, CEO & Managing DirectorCSR LimitedClick here

Contact the Taskforce

For further information, please contact the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer on (02) 9338 6786.