A huge milestone for Australia’s energy sector has been realised today with the approval by the energy regulator of the South Australia-New South Wales interconnector.
The first interconnector to be built in Australia for 15 years, it’s estimated to bring billions of dollars of investment and hundreds of jobs along its route.
“The interconnector will form a crucial element of the energy network for the future, connecting communities and businesses in the east of NSW with clean energy sources in western NSW, SA and Victoria, resulting in increased reliability in readiness for the anticipated closure of ageing coal-fired generators in NSW,” the Clean Energy Council said in a statement.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has deemed the 330kV interconnector to be built by ElectraNet and Transgrid between Robertstown and Wagga Wagga as a “no-regrets” measure, which is a priority project in its Integrated System Plan.
ElectraNet was required to submit the RIT-T application to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for the interconnector to proceed.
“We’re satisfied, on the basis of the information ElectraNet has provided, that the SA-NSW interconnector is the best option for meeting the needs of consumers when compared to alternative options,” AER Chair Clare Savage said.
“We’ve tested the reasonableness of ElectraNet’s inputs and assumptions across a range of scenarios and found that the project, as set out in the RIT-T, is robust and will deliver a net economic benefit to Australian energy consumers.”
South Australia Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the project will completely transform the energy landscape in the coming decades.
“The Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) approval shows that even when rigorously stress-tested, the interconnector delivers cheaper electricity to South Australians,” he said.
“As new wind and solar projects, above those in the 2018 base case, come online greater cost benefits will flow to households and businesses.
“This project will unlock huge new renewable energy zones in South Australia and NSW with AEMO reporting there are more than 5000 MWs of planned renewable energy projects in close proximity to the interconnector.
“The SA/NSW Interconnector will help Snowy 2.0 deliver the massive supplies of renewable energy to fulfil its role as the nation’s battery.
“South Australia is determined to be a good global citizen, and become a net exporter of renewable energy as part of our aspiration of net-100 per cent renewables in the 2030s.
“The AER’s determination shows that South Australian wind and solar power can play a bigger national role with the interconnector, delivering more jobs and growth in South Australia.
“With climate change leading to increased extreme weather conditions such as storms, floods and fires, being interconnected with just Victoria leaves South Australia at real risk of becoming disconnected from the rest of the market.
“The SA-NSW Interconnector makes us part of the loop, giving South Australia two connections to the National Electricity Market.”