Delegates, here is the December MERC Newsletter for your information, Please circulate the Newsletter to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.
POSTPONEMENT OF AGM – IMPORTANT MESSAGES TO NOTE
THE AGM MEETING (ORIGINALLY SET DOWN FOR FORBES 9TH DEC 2022) WAS POSTPONED DUE TO THE FLOODING ISSUES IN CENTRAL WEST AT THE TIME, UNTIL WEDNESDAY 22nd FEBRUARY 2023 IN SYDNEY, IN THE USUAL UPSTAIRS YORK MEETING ROOMS AT 99 YORK ST, LEVEL 2, SYDNEY.
THE DEPARTMENT FAIR TRADING (DFT) PROVIDED APPROVAL FOR POSTPONEMENT OF THE AGM UNTIL 31ST MARCH 2023 WITH FINANCIALS TO BE LODGED WITH THEM BY END OF APRIL 2023.
AFTER VERBAL APPROVAL WAS GRANTED BY DFT IN LATE NOVEMBER 2022, MERC PROGRAMMED TO HAVE OUR DEFFERED AGM MEETING HELD THE DAY AFTER LGNSW HELD ITS REGIONAL SUMMIT ON 20TH FEBRUARY 2023, TO HAVE ACCESS TO MINISTERS FOR SPEAKERS & TO ASSIST DELEGATES WITH ACCOMMODATION AND TRAVEL COSTS.
UNFORTUNATELY, THIS DAY CLASHED WITH CMA, SO TO AVOID THIS, MERC HAS MOVED OUR AGM AND ORDINARY MEETING TO THE DAY AFTER CMA’s ie WEDNESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY 2023.
THIS MAY STILL CAUSE SOME ISSUES FOR DELEGATES WITH TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS & BEING ABLE TO ATTEND THE MERC MEETINGS GIVEN THE THREE CONSECUTIVE EVENTS, COST OF ACCOMMODATION AND TIME SPENT IN SYDNEY FOR BUSY DELGATES.
DELEGATES WILL HAVE TO ATTEND OUR MEETING IN PERSON, SO WE HAVE A QUORUM AND GIVEN IT IS AGM TIME, TO BE PRESENT TO VOTE – THERE IS NOT A ZOOM FACILITY ALLOWED UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION FOR THE AGM.
IF DELEGATES CANNOT MAKE THE AGM MEETING ON 22ND FEBRUARY 2023, CAN THEY CONTACT THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO ENABLE THE EXCECUTIVE COMMITTEE TO REVIEW ITS MEETING DATE OPTIONS IF NUMBERS ARE DRASTICALLY AFFECTED & A QUORUM IS UNLIKELY. HOWEVER THE AGM MUST BE HELD BEFORE 31ST MARCH 2023.
AGM – EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
Under it’s constitution, MERC is required to have one General Meeting (the Annual General) a year and as many other General (Ordinary) Meetings as the Executive Committee determine. MERC must have four Executive Committee meetings a year. The Executive is to be elected annually at the AGM by delegates.
There is no provision in the constitution for postal voting (Clause 14.3) or provision for those attending the meeting by video or tele-conference on how to vote, even though if requested, tele-conferencing facilities are to be made available for delegates to attend the meeting (Clause 4.4).
What does this mean to delegates? Are delegates regarded as being present at the meeting if on video or phone and if so can they vote remotely in this present day and age since Covid? Every delegate must be given the opportunity to vote, however the MERC voting system in it’s constitution requires delegates to be present to vote, as this is dependant on the number of candidates for the positions. See below an explanation of the MERC voting system.
- MERC Voting System Overview
If more than 2 delegates stand for the position of Chair, the voting system is to be preferential, otherwise less than 2 stand, to be by either Open Voting (show of hands) or Ordinary Ballot (secret ballot) and for the Deputy Chair (two positions), if contested, the voting system that must be used is either by show of hands or secret ballot, as determined by delegates on the day. The voting system for the Executive Committee (3 positions) must be by preferential, if contested.
What this means is that delegates need to be in attendance to vote if the candidate numbers for the respective positions require the preferential system or delegates resolve the voting system to be by secret ballot. Otherwise if a show of hands is chosen to be the voting method, it can be managed if there are zoom attendees albeit not physically present, by the returning officer, if required for the non Chair positions.
If an election is to be held, the nominations in the prescribed form, must be in to the Executive Officer no later than 2 weeks prior to the AGM, so that will beby 4.30pm 7th February 2023. Nominations are to be seconded by a current delegate signed or emailed an intention to sign plus have the option of attaching a resume. Delegates can nominate for all three positions but only one from each member Council can be on the Executive Committee.
If any changes are required to our constitution for voting they must be made at a General (Annual or Special) Meeting with at least two thirds of the delegates present at the meeting to agree to such alterations or amendments. It is too late to do that for this election.
- The Election of Executive Committee Positions Process (Extract from Constitution)
Voting Clause 14.6 Elections for a position on the Executive and Executive Committee shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions outlined in the sub clauses 14.6.1, 14.6.2, 14.6.3 and 14.6.4, following.
14.6.1 Contested Elections – Chairperson & Deputy Chairperson
- If the number of candidates nominated for the positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson is greater than one, the election is to be a contested election;
- In the event of there being only two nominations for the election of one candidate for the indicated positions in (1) the voting system in such contested election will be by Ordinary Ballot (secret ballot) or by Open Voting (show of hands)
- In the event of more than two nominations for a position in (1), the voting system used for the election shall be the preferential system;
- If a contested election is required for either Chairperson or Deputy Chairpersons, the decision on the voting method for (2) is to be made at the Annual General Meeting immediately prior to the election.
14.6.2 Contested Election – Three positions for the Executive Committee
- If the number of candidates nominated for the three (3) remaining Executive Committee positions is greater than that number, the election is to be a contested election.
- The voting system in a contested election for the three (3) positions will be preferential.
14.6.3 Candidates’ Nominations and Resumes
- Nominations for office bearer positions are to be called for by the Executive Officer no later than two (2) weeks prior to the Annual General meeting date;
- The Candidates for the positions in clause 14.6.1 and clause 14.6.2 should forward their nominations on the form provided to reach the Executive Officer not later than 4.30pm one week prior to the Annual General Meeting. Candidates should ensure their nomination is seconded by a current Association delegate. This may take the form of the seconder signing the candidate’s nomination form or alternatively by sending an email confirming their intent to second the nomination to reach the Executive Officer by the date of the election;
- The nomination can be accompanied by a brief resume setting out details of the candidate’s background in local government and the Association (if applicable) for distribution to delegates by the Executive Officer;
NOMINATION FORM FOR EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE POSITIONS 2023
Position Nominated – Please Circle: CHAIR/ DEPUTY CHAIR/ EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
Note1: Chair, Deputy Chair (2 to be elected) & Executive Committee (3 to be elected)
Note2: The election for all positions will be conducted in accordance with the Association’s Voting Policy (if contested) ie by either Open Voting (show of hands) or Ordinary Ballot (secret ballot) for Chair/Deputy Chairs and preferential for Executive. Committee positions
Note3: You can nominate for all three positions, by circling all positions you are interested in above. If you are not elected as Chairperson, then your nomination for Deputy Chair will apply. If not elected to one of the two Deputy Chair positions your nomination will be for the election of one of the 3 Executive Committee delegates.
*Seconded by Name: ___________________
Seconders’ Signature ___________________ or email to Executive Officer (circle this option)
I agree to the nomination, please sign here Signature: _____________________________________ or email to Executive Officer your acceptance of nomination (tick this option here)
(Note: Constitution – Clause 14.6.3 Candidates’ Nominations and Resumes:
Clause 18.104.22.168 states “Nominations for office bearer positions are to be called for by the Executive Officer no later than two weeks prior to the Annual General meeting date”;
Cl 22.214.171.124 states “The candidates for the positions in Clauses 14.6.1 and 14.6.2 should forward their nominations on the form provided to reach the Executive Officer not later than 4.30pm one week prior to the Annual General Meeting.
Candidates should ensure their nomination is seconded by a current Association delegate. This may take the form of the seconder signing the candidate’s nomination form or alternatively by sending an email (confirming their intent to second the nomination) to reach the Executive Officer by the date of the election.”
Cl 126.96.36.199 states “ The nomination can be accompanied by a brief resume setting out details of the candidates background in local government and the Association (if applicable) for distribution to delegates by the Executive Officer”) Brief Resume attached (This is optional – Please circle Yes/No.)
Please forward the Nomination Form with resume (if relevant) to the Executive Officer by 4.30pm 14th February 2023 by Scanning/Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Greg Lamont Executive Officer 0407937636
(b) GOVERNANCE MATTERS
- Next Meetings of Association – The next Ordinary and AGM meetings set down to be held in Forbes on 9th December 2022, at Forbes Inn, has been postponed until February 22nd 2023. The Mini Conference date slots have been booked for the week 24-26th May 2023 at Dubbo Regional Theatre & Covention Centre. Discussions have commenced with an event management entity to assist.
- COVID-19 Virus Impact on MERC – In 2023 MERC will be resuming its’ activities in the normal manner. What this means for MERC delegates is that 2023 will have quarterly meetings as “face to face” meetings with use of zoom in exceptional circumstances. Executive Committee meetings will be by zoom means as determined. A lot of value is gleaned from being at a meeting in person and this can be lost when delegates attend by zoom. The focus will always be on giving delegates opportunity to attend meetings. However, delegates must be present to vote at the upcoming AGM in Sydney in view of the voting system in the constitution.
- Speakers for Next Meeting in Sydney – The invitees approached to speak at Forbes will be extended to speak at Sydney, hopefully we can get speakers in the lead up to the State election in March. Trying to get Deputy Premier to speak to delegates.
- Orana Opportunity Network (O2N) – MERC is trialling as a Bronze Member of ON2 for 12 months. Their Newsletters are available on their website on firstname.lastname@example.org. Discussions are underway with Orana RDA to look at joint hosting a Resources Energy & Innovation Forum with MERC on 24th – 26th May 2023 in Dubbo;
- CRC Transformation in Mining Economies (CRCTiME) – MERC is a partner with CRC TiME on a no cost but consultative basis. They provide updates on progress with an opportunity for members to join webinars, workshops, surveys etc. Latest update is below.
- Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) – Consultatnts have conducted a survey of 21 stakeholders.including the Executive Officer of MERC on how the government can improve its “social licence” with roll out of the REZ’s. Details are outlined below.
- Resources for Regions (R4R) – Stephen Wills, Resources NSW has been approached for MERC representatives to meet on R4R issues to improve current system. Response was in the negative. Deputy Premier currently on the hustings announcing R4R program grants for their $140m gleaned from the billions of royalties paid to the government annually.
- Royalties for Rejuvenation – MERC approached the Minister requesting changes to the structure of the panels, where current Councillors are excluded from consideration and seeking MERC having a seat at the table on all panels when established. Minister Toole, has replied indicating that sufficient experience will be gleaned from those appointed to the panels which are currently being rolled out with a recruiting firm doing the appointments on a merit basis. Panels have been appointed for three years throughout regional NSW with some Chairs being current senior staff and/or General Managers of regional councils to allocate their proportion of the $25m per year.
(c) MATTERS OF INTEREST
- Renewable Energy Alliance (RE-Alliance)
Andrew Bray, National Director Re-Alliance writes: “2022 saw a fundamental shift in Australia’s renewable energy roll-out. The Federal Government’s climate targets, while not yet ambitious enough, do set a clear path towards decarbonisation. Renewable energy will be the primary driver to achieve these targets. Federal commitment to building out the extensive transmission system outlined in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) is also critical. In the recently released World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Renewable Energy Scorecard #3, we are delighted to see states upping their renewable energy targets, investments and infrastructure.
With all the political foundations in place, we can leave behind the unwanted distractions about whether or not the energy transformation should take place, and move to making sure that the transformation is delivered in a way that sees tangible benefits for regional communities. We are delighted with some big policy and practice wins we saw in 2022, from the government, from industry and from communities.
The most fundamental policy change was the New South Wales Government’s strategic benefit payment to landholders of $200,000 per kilometre paid over 20 years, for all new large-scale transmission lines built on their properties. NSW’s strategic benefit payment came after advocacy by RE-Alliance and our allies for over eighteen months. It provides certainty around the development of new transmission lines and sets precedents for other states to follow.
Together with the prominence the ISP gives to the need for industry to earn social licence, such policies ensure the renewable energy transition is a just one that delivers substantial benefits to regional communities and therefore is more efficient for all stakeholders, including governments, industry and end consumers.
We participate in the development of such policies through our submissions. In RE-Alliance’s submissions we highlighted areas of consideration for social licence: the need for community participation, representing community interests and community engagement. In 2022, we made 12 submissions as input for State and Federal Government policies.
This year, we partnered with industry to keep a focus on the needs of communities in their work. We have done this by ascertaining community needs, conducting industry roundtables, helping manage the setup of community benefit funds and assisting developers to improve their community engagement plans and practice. Climate change is a key driver accelerating the transition to renewable energy.
Given the wide-ranging impacts of climate change – from economic to environmental, from social to geographic – we would like to see all barriers to the transition addressed as quickly as possible. Our vision is to see the renewable energy transition contribute to a healthier environment. As a step towards this, we facilitated the development of a joint statement with leading environmental organisations across Australia calling for the fair and timely rollout of transmission lines. Just as 2022 marked many milestones for the Australian renewable energy sector, in 2022 our organisation crossed an important milestone – RE Alliance celebrated its tenth birthday!
Our journey during this time has included building industry partnerships, nurturing changing regional communities and watching the renewable energy landscape transform. Through all this, we have been an organisation that brings the voices and interests of regional communities to the Australian renewable energy transition.
At RE-Alliance, we are uniquely placed to work with all the stakeholders of the renewable energy transition: communities in the places renewables are built, the industry and the government. Our independence makes this possible. As we step into our second decade, our independence remains our most important value and will help us continue to highlight unrepresented voices and aspirations to create a just energy transformation.
This work would not be possible without the confidence and endorsement of our supporters. And however you may choose to support us, through participating in our REZ community workshops, making a donation, becoming a member or by spreading the word about our work, we are grateful for your support. We look forward to your continued support of RE-Alliance in 2023”.
Renewable Energy Zones (REZ’s)
A REZ is a hub of renewable projects across a region that forma a modern-day power station, producing a large amount of energy for the State. The State Government has set them up in the New England, Southern NSW, Hunter/Central Coast Regions and in the Riverina and Southern Riverina.
In following up Mike after the last two meeting presentations by him, EnergyCo, as part of their Stakeholder Engagement Strategy have set up a Listening Program where the MERC Executive Officer was one of 21 entities to be interviewed on a one on one basis (to ensure MERC is involved in the roll out of REZ’s as a stakeholder) to assist in shaping how EnergyCo leads the delivery of the Renewable Energy Zones and Priority Transmission Projects in NSW.
EnergyCo has engaged the services of RPS Group to conduct a series of one-on-one stakeholder interviews. Undertaking the consultation through an independent company ensures all feedback will remain anonymous as well as giving EnergyCo deeper research insights.
When the interviews are complete, RPS Group will provide un-identified interview transcripts for analysis. The key themes and insights from this data will help shape the way EnergyCo work in the future and they plan to release a public report summarising the insights from both our community survey and stakeholder inputs. The results of the interviews are yet to be received.
Meanwhile, the following is an update on the NSW Infrastructure Roadmap:
“The NSW and Commonwealth Governments have announced a landmark deal to accelerate and secure the delivery of eight priority transmission and Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) projects in NSW, creating thousands of new energy jobs, and delivering energy that’s more reliable, more secure and more affordable across the east coast.
The joint $7.8 billion deal, including $4.7 billion from the Commonwealth’s Rewiring the Nation plan and $3.1 billion from the NSW Transmission Acceleration Facility, allows NSW to unlock the below critical transmission and REZ projects:
- VNI West
- Sydney Ring – Hunter Transmission Project
- Central-West Orana REZ
- New England REZ
- Hunter-Central Coast REZ, including potential offshore wind opportunities
- Sydney Ring – Southern Sydney Ring
- South-West REZ.
The acceleration and securing of these priority projects will be key to the realisation of the NSW Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap objectives. It will also support more than 3,900 jobs, with the construction of HumeLink in the State’s South supporting an estimated 1,200 jobs alone.
Rewiring the Nation (RTN) is the Commonwealth’s landmark commitment to invest $20 billion in low-cost finance for transmission investment to modernise the electricity grid and implement the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan (ISP), including the development of Renewable Energy Zones.
The NSW Transmission Acceleration Facility (TAF) is an investment by the NSW Government to fast-track critical energy infrastructure over the next 10 years, such as Renewable Energy Zones. Delivered by the Energy Corporation of NSW, the TAF funds development activities for new transmission projects to deliver the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. The NSW Government will work closely with the Commonwealth Government and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to oversee project arrangements.”
- RDA Orana / ON2
RDA Orana are organising a Resources & Energy Industry Innovation Forum in May 2023 in Dubbo and discussions have been held with MERC for its mini conference having a Local Government Day as part of the Forum, site visits day before, RDA Orana newsletters often have matters of interest for delegates which will be passed on when relevant information in them.
(c) OTHER MATTERS OF INTEREST – MINING & RENEWABLE ENERGY
“The New Year will be about Grid Firing as Australia Re-joins Race to Renewables”
Tim Buckley is director of Climate Energy Finance, he writes:” This year has seen a seismic shift in the pace of the energy transition. The accelerating momentum of 2022 now leaves Australia well capitalised to embrace the huge opportunities of decarbonisation, be that more energy efficient housing, the start of a reindustrialisation onshore of our manufacturing economy, and sustainably lower energy prices; a critical imperative given the fossil fuel hyperinflation that has been a defining feature of the year.
As AEMO CEO Daniel Westerman articulates, even after factoring the cost of new transmission lines, wind and solar remain by far the cheapest forms of new power generation. Key policy commitments by the new federal Albanese Labor government have provided the foundation for progress. We now have a legislated target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 43% reduction in 2005-level emissions by 2030 – which federal energy minister Chris Bowen has repeatedly described as a floor, not a ceiling.
Central to achieving this is the Safeguard Mechanism, which targets a collective 28% emissions reduction for Australia’s 215 largest emitting facilities. This will combine with the restoration of credibility and integrity in our Australian carbon credit unit (ACCU) market to provide a domestic price on carbon.
The second key policy is to have a world leading 82% renewables in the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2030, relative to the 34% share in 2022. Moving to a science aligned national emissions reduction target of say 75% by 2035 – as articulated by Zali Steggall MP at the Smart Energy Council conference this month – would require the national electricity market to move from 82% to 95% or more by 2035.
This means a fundamental rethink of the NEM in terms of generation, firming, the hugely important role of pro-sumers and EVs, and the enabling regulatory framework. Of the major states, Victoria is already aiming for 95% renewables by 2035, the most ambitious target in the country, with Queensland lifting its target to 80% renewables by 2035.
And while climate science deniers and many transmission engineers alike have long argued a reliable wind and solar powered grid was impossible, South Australia leads the world in proving the technology shift, with a 104% renewables penetration sustained for a week in December 2022, a staggering achievement given the absence of any hydro-electricity firming, and a demonstration of the value of interstate grid connectivity.
As in the AEMO Integrated System Plan (ISP) modelling, the electrification of everything including vehicles could see electricity demand nearly double from 2020-2050 to 230 terawatt-hours per annum, as we phase out reliance on high emissions, expensive methane gas and oil alike. This will also see the exit of all coal fired power generation in our country by 2035-2040, down from the dominant 63% generation share in 2021, a radical overhaul at speed.
The global energy crisis has smashed Australia’s domestic economy in 2022, reminding us that our historic failure to address the climate crisis has left Australia exceptionally over-reliant on fossil fuels, in particular the multinational gas cartel. The price caps of December 2022 buy us some time to ameliorate the hyperinflation in all things fossil fuel related, but the permanent solution is an accelerated buildout of new zero-emission firmed renewable energy and associated grid infrastructure.
AEMO reports it has 21GW of new projects undergoing connection assessment across the NEM, and that FY2023 will see 5GW of new capacity added, up from 4GW in FY2022. Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced a step-change in Australia’s utility-scale battery deployments in December 2022, with ARENA granting $176m to fast-track 8 new battery projects of 2.0GW/4.2GWh combined capacity, a move to treble battery storage capacity in the NEM by 2025. This is a very good start on the Capacity Investment Scheme the Energy Ministers announced earlier in December 2022.
Pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) will play a key role in grid reliability and balancing as we move to 95% renewables and beyond, but we need to be cognisant of the cost and timetable blowouts at Snowy 2.0 and investor uncertainty over Genex Power’s 250MW/2,000MWh Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project.
A number of new PHES proposals are slowly progressing, from 810MW at Wellington NSW to the 5GW Pioneer-Burdekin project in North Queensland and
the 2GW Borumba project near Mackay, key planks of the Queensland government’s $62 billion decarbonisation investment plan.
Whilst the $20bn Rewiring the Nation policy received a major boost in the October 2022 budget and with the announcement of the funding proposal for the VNI NSW-Victoria interconnect and Link, plus the new $7.8bn NSW critical transmission funding deal announced this week, this won’t be fully operational till early next decade.
Offshore wind is gaining serious momentum, and should play an important role in delivering 5-10% of the last 18% decarbonisation of the NEM. The December 2022 decision to fast-track the up to 2.2GW Star of the South project as a first priority for the federal and Victorian governments is demonstrating dramatically elevated ambition.
For a long time offshore wind looked problematic in terms of the likely $A100-150/MWh cost, more than double that of onshore wind. But with the NEM averaging a wholesale $A200/MWh in 2022, this provides all the context needed for an appreciation that remaining reliant on the hyper-inflationary fossil fuel sector is unviable.
The breakneck rise of EVs in 2022 globally is another key pivot. China leads the world and will sell over 6 million new energy vehicles in 2022, more than double the previous year, with a three month’s to November 2022 market share of 30%. This makes the global pivot to EVs increasingly inevitable.
With all the focus on grid firming technologies for cheap, prolific but intermittent renewables, we would note that the latent capacity of EVs to play a key role here is huge. Let’s assume the vast majority of the 20 million Australian vehicles are electric by 2040. The average EV battery size is 40kWh, meaning the entire fleet will have a collective battery capacity of 800GWh, or 200 times the combined size of the eight new utility scale batteries announced this week.
Assuming 10-20% of this can be harnessed to support the grid at any time of peak power prices, two-way electricity charging will combine with the 55GW of rooftop solar forecast by 2040 in AEMO’s ISP (2022 step-change), a more than tripling of current capacity. Behind-the-meter and community battery storage capacity will add further firming capacity at scale.
Further, the Safeguard Mechanism is set to combine with the 82% renewables by 2030 target to crowd in massive private investments of $100-200 billion and drive industrial sector decarbonisation, and the potential for embodied decarbonisation of the massively burgeoning value-added critical minerals industry here, that is, onshore mining and refining using renewable energy.
This should also allow industrial demand response management (e.g. at Tomago aluminium) to work together with smart two-way residential demand management to also enhance grid reliability in a cost effective way. There is a lot of work to be done,
and absolutely no time to lose after a wasted decade of LNP climate denialism, policy chaos and inaction.
More policy ambition on national decarbonisation targets would be welcome. Nevertheless, thankfully, after so many dark years, we leave 2022 with a new policy clarity and momentum, and with a federal government working cooperatively with business, investors and the states to supercharge the necessary and overdue transformation of our energy economy in the national interest and to the benefit of all.
Disclaimer The comments and details in the articles in this newsletter do not reflect the views, policies or position of the Association or its member Councils and are sourced and reproduced from public media outlets by the Executive Officer to provide information for members that they may not already be exposed to in their Local Government areas