The South Australian transmission company ElectraNet said on Monday it had given final approval for its share of the $2.3 billion Project EnergyConnect, meaning that the new high-voltage electricity transmission link between South Australia and New South Wales will be built.
ElectraNet will invest $457.4 million to deliver the South Australian section of the interconnector – from Robertstown to the New South Wales border – while Transgrid will spend $1.83 billion on its share of the link from the border to Wagga Wagga.
“Project EnergyConnect is landmark project that will drive competition in the wholesale electricity market by connecting more, low-cost generation to the national electricity grid and support the ongoing transition to a lower carbon emissions future,” CEO Steve Masters said in a statement.
“As the proponent of this project, ElectraNet has left no stone unturned to ensure that this project is a good investment for electricity customers in South Australia and New South Wales.”
ElectraNet says that South Australian consumers can expect an average saving of around $100 a year on their electricity bills because of the new low cost wind and solar projects that this new link will unlock, along with additional storage.
However, the Australian Energy Regulator last week noted that bills will initially rise, albeit by a fraction of those likely savings, until the full benefits of the 900km, 800MW link can be delivered.
The AER’s final approval was crucial for the project to go ahead, as was the $280 million commitment from the Clean Energy Finance Corp in what was the biggest single investment it has made to date.
Masters described the new project as “a fantastic outcome for South Australia and New South Wales, for the whole NEM and for the transition towards greater reliance on renewable energy generation.
“Australia’s national energy network is moving rapidly toward a greater mix of cleaner energy sources. There will be no energy transition without transmission.”
Transgrid has said that more than 3GW of wind and solar capacity is ready to be unlocked on the NSW side of the transmission line, and there is at least an equal amount on the South Australian side, led by Neoen’s Goyder South, Crystal Brook and other larger solar and battery storage projects.
SA energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan described EnergyConnect as a “transformational piece of infrastructure that will deliver cheaper, cleaner, more reliable electricity to South Australian households and businesses and spark a renewable energy jobs boom.”
He said EnergyConnect will be a “freeway for green energy produced in South Australia and exported to New South Wales.
“South Australia is a good global citizen and will become a net exporter of renewable energy as part of our aspiration of net-100% renewables in the 2030’s.
The project will also include a new line between Buronga to Red Cliffs in Victoria, boosting the grid in that region. Subject to environmental approvals, construction is expected to start in late 2021 with commissioning of the new line under way in 2023.