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The New South Wales Government has given the green light for works on the eastern section of the country’s biggest transmission project – EnergyConnect – to commence, following a thorough review of the submitted Environmental Impact Statement.

With New South Wales in the midst of an energy infrastructure boom, the government’s environmental approval for EnergyConnect comes alongside planning approval for new transmission lines to connect Snowy 2.0 to the grid and the declaration of the Waratah Super Battery as Critical State Significant Infrastructure.

New South Wales Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes, Anthony Roberts, said the government’s approval of EnergyConnect and new Snowy 2.0 transmission lines will help get cheaper renewable energy into the power grid.

“We have approved the New South Wales section of a new 900km electric interconnector, to link our grid with South Australia and Victoria, to increase energy security and reliability,” Mr Roberts said.

“This EnergyConnect project will see new transmission lines installed from Wagga Wagga to Buronga near the Victorian border, bringing up to 500 construction jobs to these regional areas to build this important piece of infrastructure.

“These three projects are vital for the state’s energy future, with EnergyConnect helping build the capacity of the grid and get renewable energy from South-West NSW and South Australia flowing around the state.”

Transgrid’s CEO, Brett Redman, has welcomed the government’s approval as construction efforts on the western section of the project accelerate. 

“We are pleased the NSW Minister for Planning has cleared the path for us to progress the second half of our $1.8 billion interconnector project,” Mr Redman said. 

“Works on the western section of Australia’s largest electricity transmission project are progressing well, with the construction of a 30 hectare camp to house hundreds of workers at Buronga – near Mildura – before crews prepare to assemble and erect the first of 1,500 steel towers.”

Mr Redman described EnergyConnect as an energy superhighway and the biggest project for Transgrid to date.

“The interconnector will enable sharing of energy between NSW and South Australia and Victoria for the first time, enable the integration of renewable generation and help the Federal Government achieve its climate change targets.

“EnergyConnect will also save NSW customers $180 million per year, create up to 1,500 jobs and contribute $4 billion in net benefits.”

Transgrid’s construction partner SecureEnergy JV started works in June 2022 on the 135km western section of the project, between Buronga and the South Australian border. More than 200 people are already working on the project, with delivery expected in late 2024.

A 30 hectare accommodation camp and laydown with office facilities to accommodate 340 workers is taking shape at Buronga. The existing Buronga substation will also be expanded to become one of the largest in Australia.

Another camp to house an additional 160 personnel is being built on Renmark Rd. Later this year, crews will build the foundations needed to erect the first of 1,500 towers, which will use approximately 30,000 tonnes of steel.

“Today’s planning approval adds momentum to this once in a generation transmission project that will reshape the National Electricity Market, making it possible for Australians to access cleaner and cheaper energy,” Mr Redman said.

The project is now proceeding for assessment by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. 

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