Electricity Supply Amendment (Emergency Management) Act 2017 (NSW): Faster Emergency Management

Tuesday 28 November 2017 @ 10.47 a.m. | Legal Research

The Electricity Supply Amendment (Emergency Management) Act 2017 (NSW) ('the Act') has been assented to on 23 November 2017, and has commenced on the date of assent. The Act is for the purpose of providing for electricity supply emergencies and to create a streamlined framework for emergency management powers.


The Act comes from consultation with the NSW Energy Security Taskforce ('the Taskforce'), which was established on 21 February 2017. The Taskforce found in its Initial Report, released on 22 May 2017, that the Minister for Energy and Utilities ("the Minister") was unable to act with speed and efficiency to address emergency energy issues. This Act implements that recommendation by the Taskforce by providing for measures so that the Minister can address emergency supply issues efficiently.

Objectives of the Act

The Act amends the Electricity Supply Act 1995 (NSW) ('the principal Act')and the Energy and Utilities Administration Act 1987(NSW). Under the Act, the Premier of NSW has powers to declare that there is an electricity supply emergency if they are satisfied that the supply of electricity to all or a part of the State is significantly disrupted or if there is a real risk of significant disruption. Under the declaration, the administering minister of the principal Act will:

  • Be able to give directions that are reasonably necessary to respond to the emergency when the declaration of a supply emergency is in force;
  • Be able to require information to be provided in connection with an electricity supply emergency for the purposes of determining whether the supply of electricity has been disrupted and for preparing and planning responses to any future emergency.

Authorised officers appointed by the Minister will have power to enter premises and investigate to determine whether a direction by the minister has been complied with.

Minister’s Statement

The Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said in his second reading speech that the electricity supply issues during the February 2017 heatwave demonstrated that there was a need for simple and fast options to manage electricity shortages. He also stated:

“The key feature of the bill is to have a simpler and faster process to respond effectively to electricity emergencies in New South Wales rather than expanding and extending the powers of the New South Wales Minister for energy. Under the bill, the Premier rather than the Governor must declare an electricity supply emergency in New South Wales by an order in writing. The Premier can specify a time for the order to remain in force. The Premier may do so if satisfied there is a disruption or a real risk of disruption to electricity supply to a significant degree to all or any part of the State. In practice, the Premier would be advised by the New South Wales Minister for energy who is in continuous communication with the Australian Energy Market Operator if a significant electricity supply disruption is anticipated or identified. The bill provides the Premier with flexibility as to how to publicise the electricity supply emergency order to the community. This will depend on the circumstances, but the Government can choose the best media options available. The order must be published in the Gazette or on the NSW Legislation website to give it the necessary formality.” 

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Electricity Supply Amendment (Emergency Management) Act 2017 (NSW), Bill, and second reading speeches as published on TimeBase LawOne.

NSW Energy Security Taskforce, and initial report.

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