Frequently Asked Questions

What is Project EnergyConnect?
Answer

Project EnergyConnect is a joint project between South Australia’s electricity transmission network provider ElectraNet and New South Wales’ provider TransGrid. The Project involves building a 900km-long interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales with an added connection into Victoria.


What is an Interconnector?
Answer

An electricity interconnector is a connection between multiple transmission networks that allows power to flow between regions. Interconnectors are common around the world including in Australia. Project EnergyConnect will involve the construction of a new 330 kilovolt (kV) above-ground transmission line, with approximately 800MW transfer capacity, connecting South Australia and New South Wales, with an added connection to north-west Victoria.


The interconnector would help lower energy prices and improve security and reliability in these states.


Why do we need this Project?
Answer

The Australian energy landscape is changing as we transition to a greater mix of renewables. To support this transition, the national electricity grid needs to change to connect new energy generation sources to Australian communities and businesses.



At the same time, customers are demanding lower power prices and a more secure and reliable service. ElectraNet, the owner and operator of the South Australian transmission network, has been investigating a solution to lower prices and help the network evolve. The proposed solution is a high-capacity interconnector between Robertstown in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, with a connection to Red Cliffs in Victoria.


The interconnector would help lower energy prices and improve security and reliability in these states.


What is the National Electricity Market?
Answer

The National Electricity Market (NEM) is responsible for supplying approximately 80 per cent of Australia’s energy needs (AEMO, 2019). New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland are all part of the NEM and are connected by approximately 40,000km of cables and transmission lines (AEMO, 2019) that connect energy producers into the NEM and transport the power they produce to consumers including households, businesses, public services and public infrastructure across these States.


How can I have my say?
Answer

Project EnergyConnect is committed to providing opportunities for stakeholders and the community to get involved across all stages of the Project. For more information on how you can get involved and to find out about when we will be visiting your region please visit Project Events (insert link to page).

 

You can also stay up-to-date on project news including upcoming engagement opportunities by registering for our e-news service, The Connector.




How have you selected the route?
Answer
  • The broad route has been identified based on the need to provide supporting infrastructure to connect areas identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator as Renewable Energy Zones.
  • To help enable future energy generation projects in these zones, the interconnector needs to join sub-stations at Robertstown, in South Australia, and Wagga Wagga, in NSW, via the sub-station at Buronga.
  • While the sub-station connection points are fixed, the approximately 900km route between them is not.
  • To refine the route between the sub-station points, a detailed route selection process has focused on balancing social, environmental, land use, engineering, and cost considerations.
  • The process to refine the route has involved the identification of potential constraints and opportunities and seeking feedback from stakeholders to inform where the route may or may not go. To find out more about the various constraints and opportunities visit our interactive map

What are the benefits of Project EnergyConnect?
Answer

If approved, Project EnergyConnect would deliver a range of benefits for customers in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria including:


  • Lower power prices;
  • Improved energy security;
  • Increased economic activity;
  • Supporting the transition to a lower carbon emission energy system; and
  • Supporting a greater mix of renewable energy in the NEM.


Independent modelling also forecasts Project EnergyConnect should deliver broader economic benefits including regional construction jobs during the life of the project in South Australia and New South Wales. 


How much will I save on my electricity bills?
Answer

Typical residential electricity bills are estimated to reduce annually by about $66 in South Australia and $30 in New South Wales. For small businesses, bills are estimated to reduce annually by $132 in South Australia and $71 in New South Wales. These savings are estimated to start flowing after the Project’s completion.


Was the option of constructing the transmission line underground considered? If so, why was it ruled out?
Answer

Constructing the transmission line underground was considered early in the project development. It was ruled out due to potential for unacceptable environmental impacts as well as the much higher costs of underground construction and ongoing maintenance.


What is the status of the RIT-T process?
Answer

Project EnergyConnect underwent the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) during 2019. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) found that the project satisfied the requirements of the RIT-T. ElectraNet and TransGrid will now submit applications for project funding (called Contingent Project Applications) to the AER for assessment, with a decision on those applications expected from the AER in mid-the second half of 2020.

For more information please visit the AER website: https://www.aer.gov.au/


What is the South Australian (SA) environmental and planning assessment process?
Answer

The SA section of the Project was declared a Major Project under the Development Act 1993 (SA) by the Minister for Planning on 24 June 2019 and was declared a Controlled Action by the Commonwealth Environment Minister on 19 July 2019, which means the Project requires assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required to be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines issued by the State Planning Commission (EIS Guidelines) for the consideration of both State and Commonwealth governments. Environmental authorisation from both the State and Commonwealth governments is required before the South Australian section of Project EnergyConnect may proceed.

View a copy of the Guidelines here.




What is the New South Wales (NSW) environmental and planning assessment process?
Answer

The NSW section of Project EnergyConnect has been declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI) by the NSW Government. As a result, the NSW section of Project EnergyConnect will be assessed under the State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) process.


For more information about the SSI assessment process visit the following website:

https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/assessment/state-significant-infrastructure/ssi-process


TransGrid and ElectraNet are committed to accessible, transparent and inclusive engagement with stakeholders and communities. Register for Project news direct to your email through The Connector.




How have stakeholders and the community been involved in route selection?
Answer

ElectraNet and TransGrid are committed to enabling stakeholder, landholder and community feedback on the route selection process. This has included:

·        One-on-one meetings and ongoing discussions with landholders;

·        Meetings and ongoing discussions with Traditional Owner groups;

·        Meetings with Local, State and Federal governments;

·        Community information sessions;

·        Online interactive tools and mapping where all stakeholders are able to provide feedback regarding the proposed route;

·        Involvement of key stakeholders and the community in the environmental and social impact assessment processes.