NSW gives Australia’s biggest transmission project green light


Transgrid announced on Thursday the New South Wales (NSW) government had provided planning approval for stage one of Project EnergyConnect, the high-voltage electricity transmission interconnector between South Australia (SA) and NSW.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes said approval had been granted for the project’s western section, a 900-kilometre transmission line that would stretch from Wagga Wagga to Robertstown in SA, with a spur line to Victoria.

“Today’s approval is a major step towards facilitating the delivery of what would be the largest energy transmission project undertaken in Australia in more than 30 years,” Stokes said.

“The first stage will run from the Buronga substation to the Victorian border and create 600 construction jobs and inject $418 million into our regional economy.

“To get to a low-emissions energy system our nation needs robust and reliable transmission infrastructure and that’s why we declared EnergyConnect Critical State Significant Infrastructure in 2019 because it will be a fundamental part of Australia’s energy future.

Transgrid will contribute $1.8 billion towards the project costs while SA network owner ElectraNet will make a $457.4 million contribution to build the transmission line on the SA side of the border.

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will also spend almost $300 million on the project, which was given the green light by the Australian Energy Regulator on May 31.

Transgrid acting CEO Brian Salter said EnergyConnect is a transformational project which will help accelerate Australia’s energy transition by connecting customers with more renewable generation.

“The interconnector is one of the largest projects ever proposed in the National Electricity Market (NEM) and it will facilitate Australia’s energy transition, bringing a reduction in carbon emissions and helping the nation meet its climate change targets,” he said.

“The project will be the critical missing link in the NEM, connecting more renewable generation and reinforcing connectivity between the state grids of NSW, South Australia and Victoria.”

The western section of Project EnergyConnect has received planning approval.

Image: Transgrid

Stage one of the project, which includes works between the NSW/SA border near Renmark Rd, TransGrid’s existing substation at Buronga, and the NSW/Victorian border near Monak, will now be referred to the federal government for approval with construction expected to begin next year.

Stage two will involve the development of the 540km eastern section between Buronga and Wagga Wagga and will be subject to a separate development application. Transgrid is preparing a separate environmental impact statement for works between Buronga and Wagga Wagga.

The project is expected to be fully operational by 2024.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the project will accelerate progress under the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and help the state achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.

“The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap is our plan to replace our ageing electricity infrastructure and secure NSW’s future as a clean energy superpower,” he said.

“This approval will help to unlock transmission constraints in southern NSW and help to open up the South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

“The South-West Renewable Energy Zone will drive jobs and investment into regional NSW, and help to provide our households and businesses with some of the cheapest, cleanest electricity anywhere in the world.”

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