SA energy plan undermines interconnection, ElectraNet says

A proposed power interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales has been undermined by the state’s $550 million energy plan, according to ElectraNet.

The company owns South Australia’s electricity transmission network, and gave evidence to a state parliamentary inquiry into the statewide blackout that occurred last September.

Prior to the blackout, ElectraNet had commenced a study into the feasibility of building an interconnector with the eastern states.

ElectraNet chief executive Steve Masters told the parliamentary committee an interconnector with New South Wales would cost up to $700 million, and would add about $8 to the annual electricity bills of an average SA household.

“We certainly think it would go a long way to contributing to the security and the reliability, but also the affordability, of power for South Australian consumers,” Mr Masters said.

The company’s executive manager of asset management Rainer Korte told the committee elements of the government’s energy plan could undermine the economics of stronger interconnection, removing the opportunity of the benefit of downward price pressure.

The energy plan, announced in March, includes the construction of a $360 million government-owned gas plant, and what is expected to be Australia’s largest battery storage facility.

The South Australian government invested $500,000 towards ElectraNet’s study.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said ElectraNet was not interested in South Australian generation, and wanted to make a profit.

“They’re not interested in more South Australian generation, they just want more transmission across borders,” he told ABC.

“It’s better for their parent company in Hong Kong to earn more profit.”