MEMBER for Gippsland, Darren Chester has delivered a rebuke of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s latest report.

The AEMO’s 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) was released last Thursday, June 30, outlining a 30-year roadmap of investments for upgrading Australia’s electricity infrastructure.

In a statement to the Gippsland Times, Mr Chester said the report was “disturbingly light” on any references to the likely social and economic impacts in directly affected communities like Gippsland and Latrobe Valley.

“The ‘Integrated System Plan for the National Electricity Market’ is a soulless document written by engineers and economists with hardly any reference to people,” Mr Chester said.

“The people who currently work to generate the electricity; the people who are expected to install new renewable capacity and transmission lines; the people who need reliable and affordable energy at home and in their workplaces; and the people who want to leave an environmentally sustainable system for their children.

“The actual people of the Latrobe Valley who will bear the brunt of any premature closures of existing brown coal-fired power stations aren’t mentioned once in the 104-page report.”

Despite the ISP’s lack of detail, the Nationals MP acknowledged that the transformation of the nation’s energy infrastructure was necessary.

“The plan underlines the importance of industry and government continuing to work together and support investment to provide affordable and reliable electricity to all Australians in partnership with the community,” Mr Chester said.

“I accept there is an irreversible transformation underway towards more renewables, and less coal-fired power, but it must be done in a way which respects our local communities and delivers a reliable and affordable system.

“It’s essential that governments and industries bring our community with them on this journey and not impose changes without care or consideration of local people.”

Meanwhile, the ISP has been warmly received by the Federal Labor Government.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen described the ISP as “a roadmap for the transmission revolution the country needs.”

“I look forward to working with my fellow Energy Ministers to modernise the grid, implement the ISP and provide the country with more renewables, more transmission and more storage,” Mr Bowen said.

The 2022 ISP recommends a $12 billion investment by governments over the next three decades to improve electricity infrastructure nationwide.

The report identifies the withdrawal of coal-fired power stations, need for energy storage and increase in renewable energy being sent to the grid as key reasons for the investment.