Transgrid reaches milestone on $2.3 billion interstate transmission project

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New South Wales (NSW) grid operator Transgrid said the $2.3 billion (USD 1.53 billion) EnergyConnect project has reached a major milestone with completion of the first of four new transmission lines that will enable the increased sharing of renewable energy between NSW, South Australia, and Victoria.

The 900 km transmission line, that will connect Robertstown in South Australia with Wagga Wagga in NSW, with a branch line into northwest Victoria, is being delivered by network companies Transgrid and ElectraNet. The project is expected to add 800 MW of new transfer capacity to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Transgrid, which is responsible for delivering the 700 km NSW section of the high-voltage transmission line, said it has finished construction of a new double-circuit 330 kV transmission line stretching 135 km from Buronga, in southwest NSW, to the South Australian border.

Work is continuing on the three remaining lines with the installation of 80 monopoles on the line from Buronga to Red Cliffs in northwest Victoria while crews are drilling and pouring tower foundations on the two lines between Buronga and Wagga Wagga.

Construction of the South Australian part of EnergyConnect was completed late last year, according to ElectraNet, the South Australian grid owner which is responsible for the 200 km part of the cable in that state.

Transgrid Major Projects Executive General Manager Gordon Taylor said the completion of the first line is a significant milestone for the project which is due to start coming online in the second half of this year.

“Completion of construction of the line from Buronga to the South Australian border is a major milestone for EnergyConnect, with some final minor works and testing to be carried out before energisation,” he said, adding that construction of a new substation at Buronga is also nearing completion.

Work so far has included the drilling and pouring of 1,366 concrete tower foundations, the erection of 291 towers using 6,000 tonnes of steel, and the stringing of 1,900km of conductor cabling.

The announcement comes after Transgrid recently advised the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that the delivery date for the interconnector had been delayed by up to 12 months.

Transgrid said the first stage of the interconnector, which is to release 150 MW of transfer capacity, has now been pushed back from July to November 2024 while the total line capacity of 800 MW is now due to come online in July 2027, 12 months later than previously scheduled.

The original aim was to have power flowing on the first leg of the line, between Robertstown in South Australia’s mid-north to Buronga, by the end of 2023.

AEMO revealed the revised dates in its recently released update to the 2023 Electricity Statement of Opportunities report, the 10-year reliability outlook for the National Electricity Market.

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