What you need to know
- The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 passed both Houses of Parliament on 25 November 2021 and will become an Act of Parliament once royal assent is received.
- The Bill represents a significant development in Australia's energy landscape as it introduces a dedicated regulatory regime for offshore infrastructure and technologies such as offshore wind farms. The new regime is underpinned by a licencing scheme covering feasibility, commercial, research and transmission activities occurring in the Commonwealth Offshore Area. The Bill has been modelled on the existing offshore petroleum framework under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cth) and will be similarly administered and regulated by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA). You can find our previous analysis of the Bill and each of the four licence categories here.
- The Bill has passed through Parliament without substantial amendment after receiving broad support from the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee through its report of 14 October 2021.
- The new legislation will commence operation 6 months from the date of royal assent unless an earlier date is proclaimed. An announcement is yet to be made regarding the development of regulations to support the new framework.
- The passing of the Bill coincides with last week's announcement by the Victorian Government which pledged $40 million in funding for three major offshore wind projects through the Energy Innovation Fund.
What you need to do
- With the legislation expected to commence in mid-2022, interested parties should consider the steps involved in preparing feasibility licence applications and pay attention to any announcements regarding declared areas. Reach out to us if you would like to discuss the potential implications and opportunities arising from the new framework.
- Continue following Ashurst Energy Alerts which will provide ongoing updates on the status of regulations and any State-based developments supporting the new offshore electricity regime.
Authors: Paul Curnow, Partner; Jeff Lynn, Partner; Leon Warren, Lawyer.