Jay Weatherill’s Five Recommendations for WA’s Energy Transformation

27 March 2019

BDO and Sustainable Energy Now co-hosted a discussion featuring Jay Weatherill, ex-Premier of South Australia, on energy transition, the role of government and the obstacles WA faces in balancing energy reliability, affordability and sustainability.

The event was opened by the Honorary Bill Johnston, Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations. Mr Johnston used the opportunity to highlight the recent development in WA, announcing the ‘Whole of System’ plan to help create a blueprint around the planning and development of power, and stating that “the energy transition will happen regardless of policies and politicians”.

Mr Weatherill was then invited to address a packed auditorium, sharing a detailed account of the journey he faced which led to the famed deal with Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla. His journey to the ‘big battery’ uncovered how politicised Australia’s energy market had become, citing Tony Abbot’s win off the back of demonising the carbon tax. Pivotal events also unveiled the power of vested interest and how inherently complex it was to introduce ‘new energy’ into the grid. He explained that South Australia needed to become more independent and in control of their power security given the failures of the National Energy Grid. It was the ‘black-out’ which led them to become more assertive around diversifying and embarking on energy transformation.

Jay complimented WA on the advantage of having key assets and infrastructure still under government control, making energy transformation and policy more manageable.  Proceeding to provide WA with some recommendations based on his experience;

  1. Develop an integrated system plan
  2. Track needs, security and supply
  3. Factor in ambitions around emission goals
  4. Create demand management systems that are long-term and outcomes based
  5. Create a flexible procurement process

The presentation by Jay Weatherill was extremely timely given the increased urgency that climate risk is having on every aspect of society. Our panellists, Sherif Andrawes, Global Leader, Natural Resources, BDO, Ian Porter, Chairman, Sustainable Energy Now and Rod Mitchell, National Co-ordinator, CCL took the opportunity to question both Jay and Bill Johnston, Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations on how the industry will adapt to the energy transition in the absence of any clear federal and state policy goals. Jay Weatherill stated that without ‘a price signal and a belief that it will be enduring’, adoption of any energy solution will likely fail. Bill pointed to the newly announced WA Energy Transformation initiatives that will be formulated over the next 12 months that will provide the market the guidance it needs.

BDO is highly active in the renewable space across the globe and will be supporting the businesses involved in ensuing energy transformation moving forward. If you would like to learn more or be involved in our regular Renewable Executive Peer Group Roundtables in Perth, please contact Catherine Bell, Global BD Manager, Natural Resources.