ElectraNet proposes interconnector between SA and NSW

A high capacity interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales would deliver substantial economic benefits, according to a new report.

ElectraNet released a draft report on its investigation of options to support South Australia’s energy transformation.

Independent modelling by ACIL Allen estimates annual residential customer bills would reduce by up to about $30 in South Australia and $20 in NSW with an interconnector.

ElectraNet chief executive Steve Masters said an interconnector was found to provide the largest net benefits to customers of all the options considered.

“Construction of a new 330kV line between South Australia’s mid-north and Wagga Wagga in NSW, via Buronga, is expected to deliver the highest net market benefits by helping to lower electricity prices, improve system security and support our energy transformation towards a lower carbon emissions future,” Mr Masters said.

“Net market benefits are estimated to be around $1 billion over 21 years.

“Savings to customers in South Australia could be delivered as soon as the interconnector is built.

“This would largely be due to the interconnector placing downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.”

Mr Masters said based on current estimates, a new interconnector would cost $1.5 billion across both states, and subject to receiving all necessary environmental and development approvals, could be delivered between 2022 and 2024.

To deliver the project, ElectraNet would partner with TransGrid, the manager and operator of the high voltage electricity transmission network in NSW.

Should the project be approved, TransGrid would fund the works within its jurisdiction.

“Our work has been closely coordinated with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)’s national planning process that has identified increased interconnection from South Australia as one its key national transmission priorities,” Mr Masters said.

In November 2016 ElectraNet began a process to explore the technical and economic feasibility of a new interconnector with the eastern states, as well as non-network alternatives, through the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T).

The RIT-T is the economic cost benefit test that is overseen by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and applies to all major network investments in the National Electricity Market.

Throughout the RIT-T process ElectraNet will continue to consult with a range of stakeholders, including customer representatives, AEMO, government and other interested groups.

South Australian Minister for Energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the report validated one of the key components of the state government’s energy solution.

“Enhancing South Australia’s interconnection to the NEM is one of range of policy initiatives the Marshall Liberal’s identified as necessary to bring down our states outrageous electricity prices,” he said.

“An interconnector to New South Wales will strengthen South Australia’s electricity network delivering greater reliability and cheaper prices.

“Access to additional electricity if we need it plus the opportunity to export our often overabundant renewable energy will deliver lower prices and more security for all South Australians.

“ElectraNet’s proposal closes the loop on South Australia’s connection to the national electricity market bringing cheaper power and greater export opportunities for our renewable energy generators.”