Council Priorities

  • Empowering Consumers

    Australia's energy markets operate under a set of rules and regulations that have a clear objective - to meet the long-term interests of consumers.

    Consumer choices and protections have been enhanced over the past 25 years through a series of major reforms. National laws have been introduced in most states and territories to ensure that most markets are regulated by a set of nationally consistent laws. Where these laws are not in place governments are working to ensure the rules governing electricity and gas markets and consumer protections are as consistent as possible.

    Increasing Choice

    The Council's Power of Choice initiatives will give consumers greater options in the way they source and use electricity through reforms which support the rollout of advanced meters and the development of innovative tariffs and energy services. This will help to empower consumers to make informed choices about their energy supply and use and decide which best meets their needs.

    Consumer protections and advocacy

    Australian consumers rely on access to a reliable supply of energy. Ensuring that consumers have fair and honest dealings with energy businesses provides them with the confidence to make good choices with their use and supply of energy.

    Reducing regulatory complexity and lowering barriers for energy service providers to enter the market means more competition and more opportunities for consumers to control their energy use and bills.

    Along with increasing competition have come stronger consumer protections through the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).

    Consumers also have a voice in energy market matters through the creation of Energy Consumers Australia, a national advocacy body that aims to inform regulatory and policy decisions impacting on consumers.

  • Energy Market Transformation

    The energy sector is undergoing a major transition, driven by changing technologies, new business models, increasing consumer engagement and climate change policy.

    Competitive energy markets with low barriers to entry provide strong incentives for innovation and the adoption of new technologies that benefit consumers. These technologies will empower consumers to engage more actively with their energy decisions, by providing a wider range of energy supply and use options, as well providing new options around the future development of the energy system.

    The adoption of new technologies, such as distributed generation, electric vehicles, storage, and energy management systems will challenge traditional business models for the established energy markets. It is critical that the laws and rules governing energy markets evolve in such a way that they support and appropriately accommodate technological change. The Energy Council has already pursued significant work in this area but recognises further assessment is required to ensure the regulatory frameworks are flexible enough to meet these challenges.

    At its December 2015 meeting, the Energy Council endorsed a work program to be progressed by the Energy Market Transformation Project Team, to address four key areas. This work is complementary to the work being done by the Energy Council to better integrate energy and climate policies.

    • Enhanced Competition and Innovation - This work stream is looking at barriers which may prevent:

      • competition developing in markets for services delivered by emerging technologies such as battery storage.

      • investment by regulated network providers in innovative technologies to improve the efficiency of the regulated service.

    • Empowering Consumers - This work stream will review what consumer protections should apply to customers with respect to new products and supply options emerging in the electricity market.

    • Ongoing Power System Security - This work stream will consider work the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is doing on whether current arrangements for managing power system security are adequate to integrate large volumes of intermittent generation.

    • Efficient Investment and Operation of Electricity Infrastructure - This work stream assesses the flexibility of existing network regulatory arrangements, particularly the economic framework, as we shift from a centralised system to a more decentralised one.  

    The Energy Council’s Energy Market Transformation Project Team has prepared a work program

    For more information you can contact

    At its August 2016 meeting, the Energy Council agreed to release three consultation papers seeking feedback on issues relating to stand-alone systems, consumer protections and registration systems for battery storage.

    For more information on these consultation papers click here.

    At its December 2016 meeting, the Energy Council agreed to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of a national battery storage register.  On 22 May 2017, Energy Council officials released a draft report and consultation paper on the cost-benefit analysis.  On 14 July 2017, the Energy Council agreed to release the final cost-benefit analysis report. For more information on the consultation process and the report, click here.

    An August 2017 update on the work program can be found in the Energy Market Transformation Project Team’s bulletin

  • Australian Gas Markets

    Australia's gas markets are changing rapidly.

    The east coast gas markets are now interconnected and natural gas flows are more dynamic so gas can move across the network to where it is needed. The markets are also adjusting to emerging exposure to international gas prices as the export of gas from the east coast occurs for the first time.

    Balancing supply and demand is critical to ensuring that Australian consumers and industry can access affordable gas when and where they need it.

    The Council's Australian Gas Market Vision underlies a number of initiatives to address supply and competition concerns, and to make it easier to buy and sell gas in Australia.

    Gas Supply

    Increasing gas demand is putting pressure on both gas supply and prices, and impacts certainty for business and consumers in domestic markets.

    Energy Council Ministers are working together to bring scientific and regulatory expertise to support the responsible development of unconventional gas supplies.

    Gas Market Development

    The Energy Council is committed to a comprehensive Gas Market Reform Package in August 2016, to drive the achievement of its Australian Gas Market Vision for a liquid wholesale gas market where an efficient reference price provides signals for investment and new gas supply.

    The reform package comprises four priority areas and 15 reform measures. The four priority areas are gas supply, market operation, gas transportation and market transparency.

    The Energy Council has established a dedicated Gas Market Reform Group to lead the implementation of gas market reforms.  More information is available here.

  • Energy & Carbon Policy

    Electricity generation contributes around one third of Australia's total emissions, so has a critical role in meeting emissions reductions targets.

    Energy and Carbon

    Successful integration of climate and energy policy will be crucial to meeting Australia's climate change goals at least cost to the community.

    The Energy Council is developing new platforms to ensure policies on energy and climate change are assessed to maximise their benefit and avoid any unintended effects for prices and the energy market.

    In October 2017 the Energy Security Board provided the COAG Energy Council with advice on changes to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and legislative framework. The proposed National Energy Guarantee aims to support the provision of reliable, secure and affordable electricity with a focus on ensuring:

    • the reliability of the system is maintained

    • electricity sector emissions reductions needed to meet Australia’s international commitments are achieved

    • the above objectives are met at the lowest overall costs.

    Energy Productivity

    The National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP) is designed to increase the value we get from our investment in energy. It's an effective way to lower emissions and reduce costs, while improving our competitiveness and growing the economy and jobs.

  • Improving Institutional Performance

    Australia's energy markets are facing significant disruptions and the structures governing them must be flexible enough to adapt to new challenges. Delivering the best outcomes for energy consumers requires clearly specified and stable policies, appropriate regulations, the delegation of some roles to specialist institutions, suitably qualified and experienced institutional managers, and institutional separation.

    Review of Governance Arrangements

    The final report of the Review of Governance Arrangements for Australian Energy Markets, which was commissioned by the Energy Council, was released in October 2015. The report concluded that the current arrangements are fundamentally sound but also identified opportunities to improve the transparency, timeliness, resources, and clarity of function and purpose of energy market governance arrangements that will increase confidence in energy market policy and decision making.

    The COAG Energy Council welcomed the final report and released its response in December 2015. The Council’s Senior Committee of Officials has agreed an implementation plan to deliver the Council’s response to the Governance Review.

    The Governance Review Implementation Plan (GRIP) breaks up the agreed responses into eight projects, with differing priority levels. The three key projects currently underway are the reforming of Council operations, improving AEMC processes, and the proposed separation of the AER from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). All of these initiatives are aimed at improving institutional performance.


    Statements of Expectations for the AEMC and AER

    In 2013, the Council agreed to an accountability and performance framework for the AEMC and the AER, consisting of:

  • Security, Reliability, Affordability and Sustainability of the National Electricity Market

    On 9 June 2017, Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Finkel delivered his Final Report of the Review to the meeting of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Leaders' meeting.  Following the release of the Final Report, Dr Finkel addressed the National Press Club on 21 June 2017 with a speech titled 'National Electricity Market Reform - a blueprint for the future'.

    On 14 July 2017, Energy Council responded to the Review and agreed on a timeline to implement 49 of the 50 recommendations, while noting the significance of the Clean Energy Target recommendation.  Actions taken by the Energy Council will deliver the key outcomes of increased security, future reliability, rewarding consumers and lower emissions through an orderly transition, system planning and stronger governance.

    Ministers agreed to establish an Energy Security Board (ESB), a new body comprising an independent Chair, Deputy Chair and the heads of the Australian Energy Market Commission, Australian Energy Market Operator and the Australian Energy Regulator.

    On 31 August 2017 COAG Energy Council provided advice to COAG Leaders on the implementation plan for the Finkel Review and this advice has now been agreed by COAG Leaders. This report also constituted the first annual public report to COAG Leaders on COAG Energy Council's priorities and progress, as recommended in the Finekl Review.

  • Energy Market Governance

    The COAG Energy Council (the Council) is a Ministerial forum made up of representatives of the Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand governments. It has responsibility for monitoring and reforming national energy markets. This includes increasing the nationwide consistency of national energy market regulatory frameworks to reduce costs and improve energy sector efficiency. The Council’s terms of reference can be found here.

    The role of the Council in energy market reform and the associated governance arrangements are set out the intergovernmental agreement known as the Australian Energy Market Agreement (AEMA), as amended December 2013. The AEMA can be found here.

    The Council is supported in developing national energy market policy by the Senior Committee Officials (SCO). SCO is composed of senior officials from Council members and is chaired by the Commonwealth.

    The Council has oversight of the three national market institutions responsible for the operation of national energy markets (including the National Electricity Market (NEM)). These are:

    • the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) - the rule maker and market development adviser;
    • the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) - the system operator; and
    • the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) - the economic regulator and rule enforcer.


    A comprehensive review of energy market governance, the Review of Governance Arrangements in Australian Energy Markets, was completed in October 2015 and was considered by Ministers at the December 2015 Council meeting. For more information about the Review, click here.

    The Council also works closely with:

    • Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) - advocate for the long-term interests of energy consumers; and the
    • National Offshore Petroleum and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) - regulators of safety, well integrity and environmental management for the offshore petroleum industry.


    For more information about these institutions, follow the links below:

  • Energy Security Board

    Overview of the Energy Security Board

    In August 2017 a new Energy Security Board (ESB), chaired by Dr Kerry Schott AO, was established by the COAG Energy Council. The Board’s role is to coordinate the implementation of the reform blueprint produced by Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO.

    The ESB will also provide whole of system oversight for energy security and reliability to drive better outcomes for consumers. The ESB comprises an Independent Chair, Independent Deputy Chair and the heads of the Australian Energy Market Commission, Australian Energy Regulator and Australian Energy Market Operator.

    The ESB reports to the COAG Energy Council. Each year the ESB will deliver a Health of the National Electricity Market report to COAG Energy Council that will track the performance of the system, the risks it faces, and the opportunities for improvement. The first report is due to be published by the end of 2017.

    The Terms of Reference for the ESB can be found here.

    National Energy Guarantee

    In October 2017 the ESB provided the COAG Energy Council with advice on changes to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and legislative framework. The proposed National Energy Guarantee (the Guarantee) aims to support the provision of reliable, secure and affordable electricity with a focus on ensuring:

    • the reliability of the system is maintained

    • electricity sector emissions reductions needed to meet Australia’s international commitments are achieved

    • the above objectives are met at the lowest overall costs.

    Detailed Design Process

    The ESB’s high level design proposal for the Guarantee was presented to a meeting of the COAG Energy Council on 20 April 2018. It was agreed for the ESB to progress development of the detailed design of the Guarantee, for determination at the COAG Energy Council’s August 2018 meeting.

    High-level Timeline

    Week of 21–25 May

    Technical Working Group meetings


    Technical working papers and draft final design document released for public consultation


    COAG Energy Council meeting and Final Detailed Design of the National Energy Guarantee

    September Consultation on National Energy Guarantee Legislative Amendments
    November Consultation on Retailer Reliability Obligation Legislative Amendments


    Consultation paper for draft design of the Guarantee

    On 24 November 2017, the COAG Energy Council agreed that the ESB should provide further advice on the Guarantee. This was provided in April 2018, after broad consultation. On 15 February 2018 the ESB published a consultation paper for the draft design of the Guarantee. This consultation paper was prepared by the ESB to facilitate public consultation on the high-level design of the proposed Guarantee and to seek stakeholder submissions. 

    More information on the consultation paper can be found here.

    Recent Energy Security Board announcements

    Consultation on Draft Metrics for the Strategic Energy Plan -  14 Feb 2019

    Energy Security Board Consultation on ACCC Recommendations 1 and 41 - 14 Feb 2019

    Integrated System Plan - Action Plan - 19 December 2018

    Health of the NEM 2018 - 19 December 2018

    Strategic Energy Plan – metrics for consultation – 12 Nov 2018

    Energy Security Board Consultation on ACCC Recommendation 6 & 7 - 28 Sep 2018

    Energy Security Board Converting the ISP into action - 21 Sep 2018

    National Energy Market Data Strategy Consultation Paper - 20 Mar 2018

    Health of the National Electricity Market Report - 20 Dec 2017

    Report on the National Energy Guarantee - 24 Nov 2017

    National Energy Guarantee modelling – 27 Oct 2017

    Energy Security Board: Ministerial power to make rules – 18 Sept 2017

    Media release: Establishment of the Energy Security Board – 8 Aug 2017