March 2021 variation of the 2011 Hunter Valley Coal Network Access Undertaking

Project overview

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On 23 December 2020, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) applied to the ACCC to vary the Hunter Valley Coal Network Access Undertaking.

On 13 January 2021, the ACCC released a consultation paper seeking stakeholder views on the key elements proposed in ARTC's December 2020 variation application. Stakeholder submissions closed on 24 February 2021.

On 30 March 2021, ARTC withdrew its 23 December 2020 variation application and submitted a new variation application. This was broadly the same as ARTC's December 2020 application to vary the Undertaking. However, the March 2021 variation included Access Charges from 1 July to 31 December 2021, which were not included in the December 2020 application, and some edits to correct minor drafting errors in the December 2020 application.

On 13 April 2021, the ACCC released its Draft Decision on the March 2021 variation and invited stakeholder submissions. Stakeholder submissions closed on 3 May 2021.

On 2 June 2021, the ACCC published its Final Decision to consent to ARTC’s March 2021 variation application to vary the Hunter Valley Coal Network Access Undertaking.

Note: This project was originally published in 2019 as the 2022 Hunter Valley Access Undertaking.

ACCC treatment of the December 2020 and March 2021 variation applications

While the ACCC took both applications into account in assessing the final March 2021 application, the information related to both applications is shared across two overview pages on the ACCC website.

This overview contains links to the March 2021 variation application, stakeholder submissions and the ACCC's Draft and Final Decision documents. The early part of the project, including the December 2020 variation, associated consultation paper and stakeholder submissions, can be found at: December 2020 variation of the 2011 Hunter Valley Coal Network Access Undertaking.

Summary of the March 2021 variation

The March 2021 variation extends the Undertaking by 5 years, to 31 December 2026. The March 2021 variation commences as of 1 July 2021, 6 months prior to the previous Undertaking expiration date of 31 December 2021.

The March 2021 variation changes a number of provisions in the Undertaking, including:

  • the rate of return and depreciation
  • the allocation of fixed costs to pricing zones, following the end of loss capitalisation
  • how deflation (negative changes in the Consumer Price Index) affects the regulatory asset base
  • the track utilisation rate assumption used by ARTC to calculate capacity available to be contracted.

Note that some of these provisions are not effective for the full period from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2026.

ARTC's March 2021 variation application, stakeholder submissions and the ACCC’s Draft and Final Decisions are available below.

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