In a significant move that marks a turning point in Victoria’s energy landscape, the Victorian Labor government has officially launched the State Electricity Commission (SEC), a renewables-focused reboot of the publicly-owned utility.
This historic relaunch occurred at the Careers for Net Zero Fair in Melbourne, a groundbreaking event promoting employment opportunities in the climate and renewable energy sectors.
State Premier Jacinta Allan, whose personal connection to the SEC stretches back to her father’s apprenticeship as a linesman in 1964, emphasised the critical role the new SEC will play in building a robust clean energy workforce.
The utility’s mandate is to invest in government-owned renewable energy projects and the necessary grid infrastructure to achieve Victoria’s ambitious target of reaching 95% renewables by 2035.
“The SEC is back: we’ll invest in government-owned renewable energy, help households switch to all-electric, and build the renewables workforce Victoria needs,” Allan declared.
“We’re putting power back in the hands of Victorians, giving them the tools they need to lower household energy bills and make the most of the cheap renewable energy that will supply the grid.”
The revival of the State Electricity Commission comes when various Australian states are taking steps to reclaim control of their energy markets. South Australia invests heavily in green hydrogen with a 250 MW electrolyser and a 200MW hydrogen-powered generator.
At the same time, New South Wales has also launched its State Energy Corporation to coordinate the development of crucial renewable infrastructure and storage.
The Strategic Plan: Blueprint for a Greener Future
Developed on the recommendation of Victoria’s SEC Expert Advisory Panel, the SEC’s Strategic Plan for 2023-2035 outlines three primary priorities:
1. Substantial Investment in Renewables:
The SEC will allocate an initial $1 billion toward developing 4.5GW of new renewables capacity, with 2.6GW set to be realised by 2028. Emphasis will be placed on storage solutions and onshore generation.
2. Pioneer Investment:
The SEC received over 100 Registrations of Interest (ROI) for projects, boasting a combined capacity of 24GW of generation and 30GW of storage. This pioneer investment is set to be unveiled before the end of the year.
3. Meeting Renewable Energy Targets:
The SEC will assume responsibility for Labor’s Victorian Renewable Energy Target projects until 2025, which amount to 1.2 gigawatts of renewable energy generation and the 4.5GW it is tasked with developing.
Premier Allan made it clear that the government’s active role in renewable energy projects is rooted in the belief that governments should actively participate in advancing the renewable energy cause, not just as regulators but as key players.
“The key benefit we can offer here is to plug the hard-to-fill gaps in the market and also to seek out opportunities that help accelerate the energy transition,” Allan stated. “Commercial storage is one of those key areas that will unlock future interconnection and renewable generation investment. That is why we will deliver 2.6GW of renewable generation and storage in the near term, investing in two to four-hour batteries, which will increase in duration as coal exits and more renewables enter.”
A Holistic Approach to Energy Transformation
The new SEC will cater to traditional utility customers and those seeking household electrification solutions. The utility aims to become a “one-stop shop” to pilot and showcase household electrification solutions starting next year. This approach aligns with Victoria’s broader plan to encourage households to shift toward all-electric alternatives, contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But the most groundbreaking announcement is the establishment of the SEC Centre of Training Excellence. This significant move promises to create 59,000 jobs, including 6,000 traineeships and apprenticeships. These jobs will be instrumental in delivering the infrastructure and services necessary to drive the state towards its ambitious goal of reaching 95% renewable energy by 2035.
The SEC Centre of Training Excellence: Shaping the Workforce of the Future
This Centre of Training Excellence is envisioned to be a pivotal institution in transforming Victoria’s workforce. Premier Allan believes that it will play a key role in shaping future jobs and making renewable energy a career path for many.
“Dad worked in the industry for more than 50 years before retiring in 2015,” Allan shared with the audience at the jobs fair. “Back then, for a young person, working for the SEC had been a job for life. It meant secure, stable work, the kind of work that you could build a family and a life. So my pitch today to anyone here who is considering their next career move or anyone else considering their next investment is that the investments and the projects are there, so there will always be work.”
The inauguration of the SEC Centre of Training Excellence underscores the commitment of the Victorian Labor government to creating a sustainable, highly skilled workforce ready to embrace the challenges of the renewable energy industry. This initiative is a testament to their dedication to reshaping the state’s energy landscape and their ambitious drive to lead the nation in the transition to clean energy.
The Premier summarised the essence of this significant moment, saying, “These are the jobs of the future and the chance to invest in something big. The chance to say I was there, I helped to build that – the chance to change our state and our planet for the better.” Victoria’s revitalised State Electricity Commission sets the stage for a greener, more sustainable future, marking a remarkable turning point in the state’s energy journey.
Establishment and Rise to Prominence
The SEC was born in 1921, an era marked by burgeoning industrialisation and the growing need for reliable electricity. It quickly emerged as a significant player, holding the responsibility for the development of power generation facilities, the maintenance of electricity transmission and distribution networks, and the overall management of Victoria’s electricity infrastructure.
During its years of operation, the SEC was instrumental in illuminating homes, powering industries, and energising businesses across Victoria. Its contribution was foundational to the state’s economic development and industrial progress, setting the stage for a thriving and electrified society.
A Varied Portfolio of Power Generation
The SEC was not limited to a singular approach to power generation. It operated various power stations, including coal-fired and hydroelectric plants. This diverse portfolio allowed it to cater to the ever-growing energy demands of the state.
The coal-fired power stations served as reliable workhorses, churning out electricity to meet the industrial and residential needs of the state. Meanwhile, hydroelectric plants harnessed the natural energy of Victoria’s rivers to provide clean and sustainable power.
The commitment to both conventional and renewable energy sources reflected the SEC’s foresight, even in an era when environmental concerns were not as prominent as they are today.
Evolution and Disbandment
Despite its long-standing prominence, the SEC faced significant changes in the energy landscape over the years. The liberalisation and privatisation of electricity markets reshaped the sector’s dynamics. These changes prompted a restructuring of the SEC, ultimately leading to its disbandment.
Like many other regions, Victoria embarked on a journey toward a more diversified energy landscape. The focus shifted to renewable energy sources, reflecting the global commitment to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change. This transition marked a pivotal moment in the history of the SEC, signifying the end of an era.
A Transformed Energy Landscape
In the post-SEC era, Victoria embraced a diversified energy landscape comprising public and private energy providers. The emphasis on renewable energy became a driving force in this new energy paradigm. Victoria’s commitment to sustainability and reduced carbon emissions paved the way for a greener and more environmentally conscious approach to energy generation.
The evolution of the energy sector, marked by the rise of renewable energy, aligns with broader global efforts to combat climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It also signifies a commitment to creating a more sustainable and resilient energy system for future generations.
Embrace Renewable Energy Today
Join Leading Edge Energy in celebrating Victoria’s bright renewable future! Let’s work together to build a greener, sustainable tomorrow. Do you require GreenPower rates for your business? Are you working towards a greener future? Are you interested in knowing what solutions are available to businesses with high energy usage? Get in touch with us at 1300 852 770 or email@example.com to explore your options and be a part of the renewable energy movement today.
The Leading Edge Energy team is very passionate about supporting this movement towards a sustainable energy future – not just in Victoria but all across the NEM.
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To learn more about Victoria’s State Electricity Commission, visit their website here.