VNI West transmission project to be fast tracked

VNI West transmission works (aemo)
Image: Transgrid

The Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources has used powers under the National Electricity (Victoria) Act 2005 (NEVA) to accelerate the Victoria-New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) West project.

VNI West is one of five actionable projects in the 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) critical to maintaining reliable and affordable energy for consumers, while supporting Australia’s transition to a net-zero emissions power system and economy.

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The order provides for AEMO as Victorian Planner (AVP) to undertake an early works program for VNI West and to assess and consult on alternative project options, including the connection point between VNI West and the Western Renewables Link (WRL).

AVP group manager Nicola Falcon, said the decision would enable greater consideration of local community input to complement the regulatory investment test and fast-tracks key project developments.

“AVP and Transgrid will continue to undertake genuine and meaningful engagement with stakeholders in line with the regulatory investment test,” Falcon said.

“The government’s announcement allows the consideration of alternative project options, leveraging broader stakeholder feedback, and brings forward project early works, such as engagement and consultation on planning and environmental approvals.

“This improved engagement will better reflect the needs of local communities, minimise project delivery and timing risks, and generally improve electricity reliability for all Victorians,” she said.

AVP and Transgrid will publish a consultation report next week that responds to stakeholder feedback on the Project Assessment Draft Report (PADR), including alternative locations for the terminal station connecting VNI West and WRL.

This will be followed by a six-week consultation period for communities, traditional owner groups and stakeholders to provide feedback and ensure the assessment has captured important social, heritage, environmental and economic factors for each option. 

This includes those factors that sit outside the scope of the regulatory investment test but may impact on the timely development of the project, consistent with the objectives of the NEVA Order.

Transgrid CEO Brett Redman welcomed the Ministerial order, saying it would give communities a greater opportunity for input on the 500kV interconnector.

“Transgrid is planning this project with Australian Energy Market Operator Victoria Planning (AEMO VP) and together we recognise the need to work closely with communities to successfully deliver this major infrastructure, which will increase consumer access to cheaper, cleaner electricity from renewable generators as energy storage becomes critical,” Redman said. 

“This Ministerial order allows local communities to provide information and feedback above and beyond the opportunities already made as part of the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) process and it also accelerates planning for early works on the project. 

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“Transgrid will continue to engage extensively with communities, landowners and other stakeholders on VNI West to identify opportunities and challenges as we plan for this major project.” 

VNI West, together with Transgrid’s other major transmission projects EnergyConnect and HumeLink will reshape the National Electricity Market to enable greater sharing between NSW, Victoria and South Australia and meet the nation’s clean energy targets. 

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