Renewable transmission superhighway, EnergyConnect, clears final hurdle


ElectraNet’s announcement marks the final necessary approval for the $2.28 billion project, which was given the green light by the Australian Energy Regulator on May 31.

The 900-kilometre interconnector, which passes from South Australia to New South Wales (with a short spur into Red Cliffs in northwest Victoria) is forecast to unlock some 1,800 MW of renewable energy generation in its path, and create more than 2,600 jobs across the region.

South Australia’s investment of $457.4 million through ElectraNet will pool with the $1.83 billion being spent by New South Wales’ Transgrid. Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will also spend almost $300 million on the project, its biggest investment to date.

“Project EnergyConnect is landmark project that will drive competition in the wholesale electricity market by connecting more, low-cost generation to the national electricity grid and support the ongoing transition to a lower carbon emissions future,” ElectraNet’s Chief Executive, Steve Masters, said in a statement.

“As the proponent of this project, ElectraNet has left no stone unturned to ensure that this project is a good investment for electricity customers in South Australia and New South Wales.

“We undertook a rigorous cost benefit analysis that has been repeatedly updated to demonstrate this remains the best option for customers as well as supporting the rapid pace of change across the NEM,” Masters added.

South Australian households can expect to receive an average saving of around $100 a year on their electricity bills after the interconnector comes online, while NSW residents can expect around $60 of savings.

Moreover, the transmission lines will enable renewables-leader South Australia (SA) to export more of its cleanly generated electrons into the National Electricity Market (NEM) to help meet increasing demand, and supplement the grid in the event of bad weather.

“By creating a second point of connection between SA and the NEM, [Project EnergyConnect] will significantly reduce the risk of the SA grid being “islanded” or disconnected from the NEM,” said the CEFC.

The CEFC added that having an alternate interconnector from SA to the rest of the NEM will enable critical maintenance to be performed at the existing nearby Heywood Interconnector — which will indirectly benefit Victoria’s industrial users such as the Alcoa Portland aluminium smelter, increasing reliability of electricity supply.

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