Eastern stretch is target as TransGrid progresses EnergyConnect project


New South Wales (NSW) transmission company TransGrid said the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the eastern section of the $2.3 billion EnergyConnect project has been submitted and early works have commenced on the high-capacity electricity interconnector that will link the energy grids of NSW, South Australia and Victoria.

The EnergyConnect project, a joint venture between Transgrid and SA’s transmission network owner ElectraNet, will link Wagga Wagga in NSW to Robertstown in South Australia, via Buronga with an additional ‘spur’ link between Buronga and Red Cliffs, in Victoria.

The submission of the EIS comes just weeks after the South Australian component of the project was granted environmental approval by that state government while the NSW government provided approval for the western section of the route, from Buronga to the NSW/SA border, in September.

The eastern section of the 900km high-voltage electricity transmission line encompasses the link from Buronga to Wagga Wagga.

The EIS for the eastern section includes a key link between Dinawan and Wagga Wagga, which will be upgraded to facilitate additional capacity for the Victoria NSW Interconnector (VNI) West and the planned South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

This upgrade will avoid upgrading the same part of the network when the VNI West interconnector is built between NSW and Victoria.

Transgrid crews have begun installation works at the Stockdill substation as part of VNI upgrade project.

Image: Transgrid

Transgrid executive manager of delivery Craig Stallan said the network operator and its construction partner SecureEnergy have already commenced early works on the EnergyConnect project and are mobilised in anticipation of a busy year in the state’s west.

“Construction is due to start by June this year on the NSW section of the 900km electricity transmission interconnector linking Robertstown in South Australia to Wagga Wagga and Red Cliffs in Victoria,” he said.

“We are excited to get shovels in the ground and build this critical infrastructure which will prove a game changer for electricity customers and the National Electricity Market (NEM).”

The EnergyConnect project shapes as the missing link in the NEM with proponents claiming it will enhance power system security and allow for the further development and integration of renewable generation into the nation’s main grid.

Transgrid will deliver the bulk of the interconnector, approximately 700km of transmission assets from the NSW/SA border to Wagga Wagga.

The project involves building a 900km-long interconnector between SA and NSW with an added connection into Victoria.

Image: AER

The network operator confirmed in mid-2021 it would invest $1.834 billion in the project, predicting it will save NSW customers $180 million per year, create up to 1,500 jobs and contribute a further $4 billion in economic activity for the state.

“The NSW government declared the NSW section as Critical State Significant Infrastructure in 2019,” Stallan said.

“We believe this project will change the energy landscape for the eastern seaboard states and enable the energy transition, bringing a reduction in carbon emissions and helping the nation meet its climate change targets.”

ElectraNet will contribute $457.4 million  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.

The NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces will decide on the EIS for the Eastern section, following the completion of a review by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

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