Transgrid reveals refined route for VNI West project


Transgrid has announced its new preferred route for the northern portion of the Victoria-New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) project that will link the high-voltage electricity grids in both states.

The VNI West project is to deliver new double-circuit overhead transmission line from Dinawan in NSW Murray River region to Bulgana in western Victoria. The interconnector will connect major projects EnergyConnect in NSW at the Dinawan substation and Western Renewables Link in Victoria at the Bulgana substation.

The new link between the two states promises to unlock gigawatts of new renewable generation capacity and tap into the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro storage project but it has consistently drawn the ire of communities and landowners.

Transgrid, responsible for the NSW component of the $3.6 billion (USD 2.35 billion) 800-kilometre project, earlier this year detailed a preferred route for the project but has now revealed an updated version that includes the “significant” change to move the proposed transmission line further away from the small town of Moulamein.

The release of the draft route report in January prompted a flurry of feedback from landowners and local communities with concerns about the potential impacts on Moulamein prominent.

“The proximity of the preferred route to the Moulamein township was consistently raised as a concern by members of the community as well as potential impacts on agriculture and biodiversity,” Transgrid Project Director Colin Mayer said.

“We have listened and acted in direct response to this feedback, making a significant change to the preferred route around Moulamein to reduce impacts on the local community, landowners, agriculture and the environment.”

VNI West final preferred route.

Image: Transgrid

Transgrid said the change to the preferred route moves the transmission line further north of Moulamein, extending the buffer to nearly 6 kilometres and improving visual amenity. It also decreases the number of affected landowners from 12 to five in this section of the alignment and reduces potential impacts on irrigated agricultural farming operations.

Other changes to the preferred route detailed earlier this year include widening the corridor by up to 3km near Dinawan to “allow flexibility to find a pathway for the transmission line through future renewable energy developments.”

Transgrid has also modified the route near Wanganella to move it further away from residential properties in the area, and identified a ‘bubble’ up to 10km wide near the Murray River at Cobramunga to allow for a specific crossing point to be determined.

Mayer said Transgrid will continue to refine the preferred route with detailed studies to be now undertaken as part of the formal environmental assessment and approvals process.

VNI West is being jointly developed with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Transmission Company Victoria (TCV) which continue to progress plans for the Victorian stretch of the transmission project with public submissions on its preferred route being taken until 5 April 2024.

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