Terms of reference

Purpose of the expert panel

  • The purpose of the expert panel is to provide government with a report of the recommended options available to pursue the target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 (the target).
  • The project team comprises the Environment Policy unit within the Department of the Chief Minister.
  • The expert panel’s expertise spans key areas integral to the success of the project, including: electricity generation; power system integration; electricity industry and consumer economics; remote energy systems; and local knowledge of the Northern Territory (NT) and national industry and regulatory environment.
  • The Panel will advise on the technical, financial, operational and economic feasibility of options within the Northern Territory context.


  • The panel’s deliberations will be underpinned by the objective of a secure, reliable and least-cost electricity service for all Territorians.
  • The panel will be guided by the work that has already been done on renewable energy options across Australia and around the world.

Expert panel responsibilities

  • The expert panel is not a decision-making body and will not determine government policy or outcomes.
  • The expert panel will not be involved in assessing, evaluating, recommending or approving any renewable energy proposals.
  • The expert panel will provide advice and practical options for consideration by government. In performing their duties, the expert panel will have regard to:
    • protecting the long-term interests of consumers with respect to reliability, security and safety of supply
    • promoting economic efficiency
    • ensuring consumers benefit from competition and efficiency, and
    • considering short, medium and long term investment and benefit realisation.
  • All members of the panel agree to work within the framework of these terms of reference and the agreed governance arrangements.
  • The chair agrees to provide strategic leadership and direction to the panel in meeting its obligations.

Expert panel meetings

  • Panel members will commit to attend one meeting per month in person, and participate in one teleconference meeting per month. Meetings will be held in Darwin or Alice Springs unless otherwise agreed by the project team. Travel and accommodation arrangements are the responsibility of the project team.
  • In the event a panel member is unable to attend a meeting, they agree to notify the chair as soon as possible, and agree to provide the chair with sufficient information to enable the expert panel to make decisions and progress tasks as planned at the meeting.
  • The project team will provide secretariat support to the expert panel meetings and will collate and distribute agenda papers at least one week prior to each scheduled meeting.


  • A quorum shall be four members, including the chair.
  • Where panel members have alternate views, these will be noted in proceedings of meetings.


  • The NT Government does not favour one source of renewable energy generation over any others.
  • With this in mind, the panel will provide advice to the project team on practical and viable options for achieving the government’s renewable energy target, including technical, financial, operational and economic issues associated with the options, for government consideration.
  • When providing advice, the panel will consider key issues and barriers, including but not limited to:
    • better defining the 50% renewable target that is measurable and achievable for Cabinet consideration
    • the impact on NT households and businesses of implementing various options, including the likely cost and potential implications for how and when they consume electricity
    • impacts of increasing renewable energy supply on regulated, unregulated and off-grid power systems
    • impacts of renewable energy supply on power system security and taking into consideration the characteristics of NT power systems
    • storage options for intermittent / renewable energy
    • the scale of potential solutions (small-scale, residential, commercial or large-scale)
    • any necessary pre-conditions, policy settings or incentives that might be employed to encourage commercial investment in renewable generation and industry competition, and to encourage increased uptake of renewable energy by consumers
    • options to attract investment and create jobs in the renewable energy sector
    • possible impacts on existing funding or contractual arrangements in the NT
    • options to enable low income, remote and renting households to participate in the transition to renewable energy
    • community values and expectations
    • options to promote efficiency and competition in the electricity supply industry in line with the objects of the Electricity Reform Act, and
    • regulatory and market arrangements, noting the NT is progressively adopting the National Electricity Law and Rules and is finalising the design of a wholesale electricity market mechanism to be implemented during 2017.

Out of scope

  • Issues that are outside the scope of the panel’s review are:
    • developing a plan to implement, or the implementation of government’s preferred option(s)
    • liaising with, or negotiating with the Australian Government on renewable energy targets, industry arrangements, funding arrangements or policy settings
    • broader climate change policy, or potential greenhouse gas abatement or offset schemes
    • strategies to displace or reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in transport
    • facilitating inquiries from potential generation applicants, and
    • strategies to encourage energy efficiency or off-peak use.


  • These terms of reference and the attached governance arrangements are subject to periodic review by the project team.
  • As the project progresses, the terms of reference and governance arrangements may require amendments to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
  • The expert panel agrees the project team may amend the terms of reference or governance arrangements as required.
  • The project team agrees to notify the expert panel at least one week prior to amending the terms of reference or governance arrangements.

Stakeholder engagement

  • The chair must authorise any public communication from the expert panel. The public communication must be accompanied by a caveat that the information is not government policy.
  • The chair agrees to inform the project team prior to any public communication activity.
  • The project team will work with the panel to develop and implement a community engagement and education strategy to guide discussion with the NT community, business and consumer groups, industry peak bodies and academic organisations. The community engagement and education strategy will include opportunities for the public to provide written submissions.
  • The project team will maintain an online portal including a ‘Have your say’ feature where members of the public can provide feedback on key questions. The portal will include a repository for documents endorsed for publication by the project team.
  • The project team will coordinate the expert panel’s access to government agencies, government business divisions, government owned corporations, existing electricity industry participants and potential participants through the interagency working group.
  • In the event the advice and information of the interagency working group is not taken into consideration, the expert panel agrees to provide the project team with an overview of why this information was not considered relevant to its deliberations.