Powercor targets transmission licence to bring more renewables online


Distributed network service provider Powercor has applied to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) for a licence that would allow it to plan, design and build transmission infrastructure within its current electrical distribution areas across western, central and northern parts of Victoria.

Powercor said it won’t be constructing large transmission line corridors but is seeking to obtain a licence that will enable it to build and upgrade transmission infrastructure, including new terminal stations and 220 kV powerlines, to connect contained projects to the grid.

Powercor, which is jointly owned by Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Holdings and foreign-owned Spark Infrastructure, said these projects would include large-scale solar and wind generation, battery storage, data centres and commercial and industrial businesses.

“Faster transmission connections and creating more capacity is essential to supporting Victoria achieve its target of delivering 65% renewable generation by 2030 and unlocking more than 10,000 MW of capacity within our state’s designated renewable energy zones,” Powercor Chief Executive Officer Tim Rourke said.

“Our entry into the transmission market would provide the extra market capability the industry needs to support more renewables and commercial connections to the grid.”

Powercor’s distribution network already supports more than 2,625 MW of large-scale renewable power and is home to four of Victoria’s planned six renewable energy zones.

The company is however generally restricted to connecting generators or loads under a certain capacity to its low- and medium-voltage distribution network. AusNet owns and operates the majority of Victoria’s 6,000 kilometre high-voltage electricity transmission system.

Rourke reasoned the introduction of a new transmission provider would provide major businesses and renewable energy proponents more choice when it comes to connecting to the grid in Victoria.

“An additional provider and operator in the market will support more investment, creating the competition needed to significantly drive down transmission connection costs and reduce delivery timelines for people wanting to invest in our state and create jobs in our regional communities,” he said.

“We will be the only provider to offer a full in-house service, from design and planning to construction and maintenance, across both distribution and transmission in western Victoria.”

The ESC said it will be consulting with communities and stakeholders as it reviews Powercor’s licence application and will make a decision on the application later this year.

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