Group of wind turbines at a wind farm on a hill with cattle grazing beneath, creating renewable energy in Taralga NSW Australia.

New South Wales farmers hosting transmission infrastructure will receive an additional $200,000 per kilometre paid over 20 years, following alleged disparity in remuneration payments.

Landholders hosting transmission infrastructure have historically been paid less than those hosting electricity generating technologies such as solar and wind.

Now, the New South Wales Government has announced it will pay an additional $200,000 to said landholders from its newly-introduced Strategic Benefits and Payments scheme, in addition to existing statutory compensation payments made under the Just Terms Act.

The decision has received broad support from advocacy groups and transmission businesses, including the Renewable Energy Alliance (RE-Alliance), Farmers for Climate Action, Energy Networks Australia and Transgrid.

Transgrid CEO, Brett Redman, welcomed the new rules which he said would support the national transition to renewable energy and further enable the supply of renewable energy to consumers.

“Transgrid has been working closely with the New South Wales Government on the details of the proposal and we are pleased to see the Strategic Benefit Payments provided for landowners who host transmission assets,” Mr Redman said.

“The payment will apply to private landowners hosting our major transmission projects EnergyConnect and HumeLink, as well as those landowners affected by any future projects such as VNI West, which are part of Transgrid’s energy superhighway,the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan and Renewable Energy Zones.

“Transgrid’s overriding considerations have been to ensure that the payment is equitable for new transmission project landowners, addresses the social licence issues raised by them and balances these factors with the need to represent value for energy consumers.”

Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the payments would help get transmission infrastructure built on time to enable the transition to net zero energy.

“The New South Wales Government is taking major strides in solving the challenges of building transmission infrastructure including how networks engage with communities and landowners and implementing social licence best practice. This may form a blueprint for other jurisdictions,” Mr Dillon said.

“Australia is working towards a net zero energy grid but is impeded by a lack of transmission infrastructure.

“Our existing network regulations focus on keeping payments to landowners as low as possible. The current regulatory approach is a handbrake on getting projects built and challenging and divisive for affected communities.

“Strategic benefit payments are a major step to addressing this problem.”

Farmers for Climate Action CEO, Dr Fiona Davis, said the new policy had the potential to help win social licence for the transmission required for renewable energy developments, speed up bringing projects online and provide stable alternative income for farmers.

“Farmers for Climate Action has called for exactly this kind of arrangement and we’re so thrilled to see it become reality in New South Wales,” Dr Davis said.

“Community support is essential to deliver the thousands of regional jobs these renewable energy projects bring, and a policy like this brings benefits to the local community. Farmers who have alternative income during drought keep employing locals and spending money in local pubs, cafes and retail stores.

“We know this won’t solve every community concern and that some farmers oppose transmission on their land under any circumstances, and we continue to suggest renewables companies in Renewable Energy Zones contribute to a local community fund.”

RE-Alliance National Director, Andrew Bray, said it was important that state governments treated landholders hosting transmission lines as equal stakeholders in energy projects.

“NSW has a number of renewable energy transmission projects in the pipeline that will carry high volumes of clean power across NSW and to neighbouring states,” Mr Bray said.

“By hosting transmission lines, landholders are creating value for energy consumers, and it’s important they are treated as core stakeholders and benefit materially for the role they play in our future energy system.

“Farmers hosting transmission lines on their property will now receive payments more comparable to those hosting a solar farm or wind farm.”

Mr Bray said RE-Alliance would call on other state and territory governments to adopt similar measures ahead of the national energy transition.

“Energy Ministers are set to meet at the end of the week. Following today’s announcement, harmonising payments across state jurisdictions is likely to be on the agenda,” Mr Bray said.

“Some transmission lines cross state borders, and it’s simply untenable to have landholders receiving different amounts on either side.”

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