Economy, consumers big winners in energy project

Australian electricity consumers are set to benefit from lower electricity prices and greater energy security, thanks to a proposed transmission line running from Wagga Wagga, NSW, to Robertstown, SA.

TransGrid is partnering with ElectraNet to deliver EnergyConnect, a 900km energy interconnector between the power grids of South Australia and New South Wales, with an added connection to Victoria. 

The NSW Government has declared the project, a key part of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan, as Critical State Significant Infrastructure.

In January 2020, the Australian Energy Regulator approved the cost benefit analysis for the interconnector, saying the project “maximises the net economic benefits in the National Electricity Market”.

“TransGrid is currently undertaking a procurement process to appoint a Principal Contractor,” ICN NSW Regional Manager Geoff Reardon said.

Three tenders, CPB Contractors & UGL Engineering, Elecnor Australia & Seymour Whyte Constructions and Quanta Power Australia have been shortlisted to deliver EnergyConnect. ICN NSW is currently working with Transgrid to identify local capabilities, including Indigenous-owned businesses.

According to Transgrid, EnergyConnect will deliver a range of direct benefits for electricity users in NSW, SA and Vic including:

  • Lower prices
  • Energy security
  • Increased economic activity and jobs

“The route will pass though renewable energy zones and means future renewable projects in these areas will be able to connect to the grid and supply new energy to the network,” Geoff said.

Businesses interested in either supplying or sub-contracting to the successful tenderer are invited to register their interest on Gateway.

The transmission line will pass through or near a number of local government areas, and ICN is particularly interested in hearing from capable companies located in these LGAs:

  • Wentworth Shire
  • Balranald Shire
  • Murray River
  • Edward River
  • Hay Shire
  • Murrumbidgee
  • Griffith
  • Leeton
  • Narrandera Shire
  • Federation
  • Lockhart Shire
  • Wagga Wagga

As of 1 June this year, more than 400 Australian businesses have registered more than 670 Expressions of Interest in working on EnergyConnect.

In a press release, Transgrid said it expected the project to provide around 1500 jobs and deliver an economic benefit to NSW of $4 billion. “We are encouraging Australian businesses to get involved in EnergyConnect, a major infrastructure project being developed by TransGrid and ElectraNet,” Executive Manager of Major Projects Sean McGoldrick said.

Transgrid expect EnergyConnect to set new benchmarks in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce participation, with Indigenous-owned businesses invited to play a substantial role in project delivery.

The project’s Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be complete before the end 2020. Major construction is planned to start by mid-2021, with Robertstown in SA to Buronga in NSW delivered by the end of 2022 and the remaining section from Buronga to Wagga Wagga to be delivered by mid-2023.

To register an expression of interest, go to the EnergyConnect Gateway page.