Transgrid and AEMO Victorian Planning (AVP) have today published the Project Assessment Draft Report (PADR) for the Victoria – New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) West project as part of the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) process.
It identifies that VNI West is the proposed preferred option for reinforcement of the transmission network, rather than combining with a ‘non-network’ battery option, which will help facilitate the energy transition at lowest cost for consumers.
VNI West is one of five actionable projects in the 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP), developed by AEMO with industry in its role as the national transmission planner to support Australia’s transition to a net-zero emissions power system and economy.
In developing the PADR, Transgrid and AVP have considered stakeholder feedback on the Project Specification Consultation Report published in December 2019. The PADR provides an opportunity for further consultation and feedback on the proposed preferred option prior to finalising the RIT-T to ensure network planners make prudent investments on behalf of electricity consumers who ultimately fund the projects.
Transgrid CEO, Brett Redman, said: “Our investigations with AVP have determined the VNI West (via Kerang) option would provide the best outcome for energy consumers, with net market benefits of $687 million.”
“Strategically, VNI West is designed to connect to other transmission projects underway in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales (Project EnergyConnect, Western Renewable Link and HumeLink), increasing network resilience and energy reliability for consumers in those states and putting downward pressure on electricity prices.
“We are leaning into the acceleration of the energy transition to ensure we keep the lights on, drive down wholesale electricity prices and reduce emissions,” he said.
VNI West will continue to progress through regulatory assessment (RIT-T), which is expected to be completed by early 2023. All stakeholders, including community members, are encouraged to provide written submissions on the PADR, including comments on the inputs, analysis, and preferred option presented within the report.
Over the next six weeks, AEMO VP and Transgrid will undertake a suite of consultations before submissions on the PADR close to ensure the rationale for, and benefits of, the project are clearly understood, and to facilitate early stakeholder, community and Traditional Owner input on potential social and cultural considerations of the proposed preferred option at this stage.
AEMO Victorian Planning Group Manager, Nicola Falcon, said: “VNI West will help unlock and share geographically and technologically diverse clean, low-cost renewables, including from renewable energy zones in Victoria and New South Wales.”
“Allowing more renewables into the power system and utilising better access to deep storage from Snowy 2.0 will reduce carbon emissions and improve the reliability and security of electricity supply as ageing coal power stations close.
“AVP and Transgrid recognise the vital role that communities and impacted landholders have in the planning and delivery of major transmission infrastructure projects. Both parties are dedicated to continuously improving engagement practices,” she said.
Transgrid media: Michelle Stone 0438 293 917
AEMO media: 0409 382 121, firstname.lastname@example.org
 $687 million is in net present value terms. The total estimated cost of $3,256 million (nominal), is equivalent to $1,704 million on a weighted basis across the three ISP scenarios investigated in present value terms.