AEMO Victorian Planning (AVP) and Transgrid have today released the final report in the regulatory investment test for the Victoria – New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West). This marks the end of this part of the regulatory process that began in 2019, involving hundreds of stakeholders and more than 600 written submissions.
The Project Assessment Conclusions Report (PACR) outlines the preferred option and a geographic area of interest for the project. The option is forecast to deliver approximately $1.4 billion in net market benefits1, generating significant savings for consumers through avoided generation, storage and fuel costs, and transmission expansion cost savings for renewable energy zones (REZs).
Harnessing more renewable generation than the previously proposed option, the preferred option will run between Dinawan substation in New South Wales (under construction as part of Transgrid’s approved ISP project EnergyConnect) to Bulgana in Victoria, passing through the South West New South Wales, Murray River and Western Victoria REZs, where it will connect to the Western Renewables Link.
Today, prior to publication of the PACR, the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources announced a Ministerial Order under the National Electricity (Victoria) Act 2005 to identify the preferred option for the Victorian part of VNI West and progress work to identify a final route through consultation with landowners, Traditional Owners and community stakeholders.
AVP and Transgrid recently completed six weeks of community consultation in relation to alternate options for VNI West and received feedback and submissions from local communities and stakeholders. This valuable feedback has reshaped where VNI West crosses the Murray River, with the final option adjusted to reflect stakeholder feedback identifying constraints around culturally and environmentally significant areas as well as zones of irrigated agriculture.
AVP Group Manager Nicola Falcon said that significant consultation and stakeholder feedback had contributed to the proposed option that maximises benefits to electricity consumers and unlocks Victoria’s renewable energy potential.
“We thank all the farmers, community groups, councils and Traditional Owners who have contributed to the consultation, which will continue as the transmission line design is finalised,” she said.
“The feedback received has helped us identify a preferred option for the critical transmission line – a variant of the previously proposed option – that delivers the most benefits for consumers and more electricity generation from three REZs in Victoria and NSW.
“By crossing the Murray River further north-west, the project can also avoid some sensitive cultural areas and prime irrigation land identified in feedback from local communities and avoid the habitat of the endangered Plains-wanderer,” she said.
Transgrid Executive General Manager of Major Projects Gordon Taylor said: “Transgrid will now work with communities, Traditional Owners and stakeholders to refine the NSW section of the project. This critical transmission infrastructure will reshape the National Electricity Market and enable significant sharing of energy with Victoria.
“We are fully committed to reducing impacts wherever feasible and providing local communities, Traditional Owners and businesses with opportunities to collaborate with us on the development of our broader community investment and benefits program which includes local content and employment opportunities,” said Mr Taylor.
The broad area of interest for the project, spanning 5 to 50 kilometres in width, will be refined to a corridor then an indicative route based on further assessments and important stakeholder input. This includes direct engagement with landholders on the specifics of land use, access and compensation.
Compensation will address any impacts on the land value and the use of that land, as assessed by an expert valuer. Landholder payments2 for hosting transmission infrastructure are in addition to compensation.
Future project works will be supported by significant community, Traditional Owner and stakeholder engagement activities in the regions to ensure that all stakeholders within the broad transmission corridor have the opportunity to participate in the development of the final VNI West route.
The PACR, stakeholder submissions and responses to key issues raised are available on AEMO's and Transgrid’s websites. Information about the consultation process and upcoming stakeholder engagement activities, through direct correspondence and a broad regional communications program, will be published on the Transmission Company Victoria website.
1 Forecast generation and capacity outlooks and gross market benefit outcomes are based on market modelling conducted by EY in accordance with the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER’s) Cost Benefit Analysis Guidelines.
Transmission Company Victoria (TCV) is a new company created by AEMO Victorian Planning to progress the VNI West transmission project. TCV will discuss the VNI West transmission project with landholders, Traditional Owners and the community to understand local concerns as the project moves toward construction.
As AEMO is the system planner and will not physically construct or own the transmission lines, it established TCV to make sure that commitments made in the early stages are captured and honoured across the life of the project.
TCV will provide early project updates, and will work with the community on this important transmission line.