Households to foot bill for HumeLink blowout

Transmission towers against sunset (HumeLink)

New South Wales households could pay up to an extra $60 per year to cover a $2 billion blowout in the cost of the proposed HumeLink transmission line to take power supplied by Snowy 2.0, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Transgrid says HumeLink—a 500kV transmission link connecting Wagga Wagga, Bannaby and Maragle—to cost $3.317 billion, which is almost three times the $1.35 billion figure estimated in January 2020.

Victoria Energy Policy Centre director and co-author of a new assessment of the plan Bruce Mountain said the blowout makes HumeLink “by far the most expensive transmission project” in Australia.

Transgrid attributed the additional costs on higher prices for steel and other construction materials, as well as environmental offsets to compensate for the pylons traversing Kosciuszko National Park, which alone could cost $935 million.

Related article: TransGrid report says renewables transition is speeding up

Transgrid executive Craig Stallan told the Sydney Morning Herald the project was “a fundamental enabler” for new renewable energy supply to be added to the grid and “not just for Snowy 2.0″.

In July, HumeLink told the Australian Energy Regulator the project would have a net benefit of $491 million for consumers, a sum that excluded a price on carbon emissions avoided from fossil fuel plants and gains created in regional towns from the major construction.

Dr Mountain noted, however, that Transgrid admitted to “a high degree of uncertainty” to its revised figure, offering a range between 30 per cent lower to as much as 50 per cent higher.

“At $3.317 billion, though, that still implies the asset base of the privately owned company will swell by half and its transmission tariffs by about 40 per cent—increases it can pass on to consumers,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“If approved, the project would lift NSW household tariffs by about 4 per cent, raising average annual bills of about $1500 by $60.”

Read the full article here.