Western Victoria Transmission Network Project

Overview: AusNet Services is planning a 190 km overhead transmission line in western Victoria which will impact Moorabool’s entire landscape. Council is advocating for the lines to be put underground through its Green and Unseen campaign, persistent correspondence with decision-makers, and community education sessions.

Latest news 

  • We’ve published an independent report that concludes undergrounding HVDC cables are a technically feasible, more reliable and efficient alternative to the WVTNP. Read the full report(PDF, 4MB)
  • AusNet Services has released the corridors and next steps for determining the final route: westvictnp.com.au/1news

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Project background
Council involvement
Project timeline and resulting actions

Project background

What is the project? 

AusNet Services has been awarded the contract to construct 190 km of new overhead high voltage transmission lines from Sydenham to Bulgana, a new terminal station to the north of Ballarat and several electricity infrastructure upgrades across western Victoria. Whilst the route of the transmission line has not yet been determined, AusNet Services has identified an area of interest and is undertaking investigations. 

Moorabool Shire is proposed to have almost 60 km of 500 kV transmission lines from the far west border through to the east, and may also house the new terminal station.

Project approvals 

AusNet Services prepared an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project, as mandated by the Minister for Planning in August 2020.

The Minister for Planning issued the final scoping requirements in December 2020 which broadly outline the issues that AusNet Services must address in the Environmental Effects Statement assessment.

Read the Environmental Effects Statement Scoping Requirements.(DOCX, 1MB)

Read the Environment Effects Statement Scoping FAQs.(DOCX, 2MB)

Once completed, an inquiry will consider the EES and submissions, conduct a public hearing and report in writing to the Minister, who will then make his assessment and provide it to decision-makers for consideration.  

The project is also classified as a ‘controlled action’ under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and assessments will be managed by the State Government under this Bilateral Agreement.

Council involvement

What is Council doing? 

We are addressing community concerns and supporting residents by urging decision-makers to put the lines underground and provide transparent information to the public.  

Underground is the solution  

In order to explore the viability of alternative solutions, we commissioned an independent report(PDF, 5MB)  that compares 500 kV Overhead Lines with 500 kV Underground Cables. It confirmed that the undergrounding of powerlines is a viable option. 

Key findings:  

  • To install a portion of the route underground is a technically feasible option
  • Undergrounding significantly reduces the magnetic field level when standing 15m away, compared to overhead lines
  • Underground lines are not susceptible to weather conditions and experience a third of the forced outages
  • The easement requirement for underground is two-thirds of that of above ground 
  • There are less vegetation management requirements for underground lines
  • Overhead lines emit audible noise whereas underground lines do not

Read the full report here.(PDF, 5MB)

Local economic impact assessment

Council commissioned an independent local economic impact assessment(PDF, 55MB)  to examine the economic advantages and disadvantages that had not been previously considered as part of the project’s Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) process.

Key findings:

  • The RIT-T does not appear to consider costs or benefits outside the electricity market.
  • The RIT-T process selects a preferred option on the basis of net direct electricity market benefit and does not take into account any local, indirect or non-market impacts (positive or negative).
  • The capital costs considered include construction, operation, maintenance, regulatory costs, and easements. It is apparent that no other costs are considered such as non-market economic, social, and environmental impacts.
  • The benefits assessed include price benefits to electricity consumers and the profitability of energy production and subsequent flow to business.
  • It is apparent that no other benefits are considered, including non-market economic impacts.

Read the full report here.(PDF, 55MB)

High-Level HVDC Alternative Scoping Report  

In another independent report(PDF, 4MB) commissioned by Council, experts confirm that utilising HVDC underground cables for the WVTNP is a viable, low-impact alternative to the AC overhead transmission lines currently being planned.

Importantly, it also found that the underground option is significantly less than the 10 times greater as referenced by the AEMO Western Victoria Renewable Integration Project Assessment Draft Report (PADR).

Key findings:

  • HVDC underground cables are a technically feasible alternative that is likely to be more reliable and efficient for the movement of renewable energy to major centres whilst presenting significantly reduced impact to social and environmental factors.
  • HVDC underground option will not be impacted by bush fires. Power does not need to be switched off during bush fires to aid firefighting, and the power transmission is highly unlikely to be disrupted due to smoke causing flashovers and potentially tripping breakers.
  • HVDC underground cables provide the lowest impact solution with:

  • Little to no risk of underground cables causing fire or being affected by severe weather events.
  • Little to no impact to access e.g. for emergency services and aviation operations.
  • Minimal impact to private land or current land use once construction is completed as the easement could be designed to fit within existing road reserves.
  • Significantly reduced impact to flora and fauna due to the possible location of the cable along roadways.
  • No visual impact concerning the transmission line as the cables are buried underground.
  • Equivalent or reduced visual and land-use impact from the converter station as it would be expected to occupy a relatively similar area as a typical AC terminal station with much of the equipment being housed indoors.
  • No audible noise along the transmission line.
  • Little to no electromagnetic field impacts.

 
Read the full report here(PDF, 4MB)

Green and Unseen campaign 

Council has launched a campaign called Green and Unseen which urges AusNet Services to put the transmission lines underground.  
 
“We’re proud to produce renewable energy through our wind farms… but putting the powerlines overhead is not green and is actually dangerous to Moorabool residents – hence our Green and Unseen campaign.” said Mayor Cr David Edwards.

 

Educating the community 

We are coordinating a series of online community sessions with independent experts to better inform the community on various aspects of the project.  

  1. Understanding the Environmental Effects Statement (EES) process
    Presented by Jack Krohn. Senior Impact Assessor, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
    Wednesday 23 September 2020
    Watch the recording
    Additional Q&A - DELWP(PDF, 188KB)
    Additional Q&A - AusNet Services(PDF, 87KB)
     

  2. Understanding compulsory land acquisition and compensation 
    Presented by Tony Rutherford, Shaun Whittaker and Jackson Dyer from Mills Oakley Law Firm
    Thursday 8 October 2020
    Watch the recording
     

  3. Energy Safe Victoria Part 1 - Safety and High Voltage Transmission Lines
    Presented by Brett Fox and Gavin Jackson from Energy Safe Victoria
    Wednesday 21 October 2020
    Watch the recording
    Additional Q&A - Energy Safe Victoria(PDF, 330KB)

    Energy Safe Victoria Part 2 - Farming and High Voltage Transmission Lines
    Presented by Brett Fox and Gavin Jackson from Energy Safe Victoria
    Thursday 3 December 2020
    Watch the recording
    Additional Q&A 2 - Energy Safe Victoria(PDF, 330KB)
     

  4. AEMO explains RiT-T and findings
    Presented by Tony Chappel, Alex Wonhas, Greg Thorpe & Alistair Parker.
    Wednesday 9 December 2020
    Watch the recording
    Additional Q&A - AEMO(PDF, 933KB)

Project timeline and resulting actions

Council has been advocating on behalf of the community with decision-makers throughout the entire process:

 

Provide feedback to AusNet

Council strongly encourages everyone to share their feedback directly with AusNet Services and have their voices heard by visiting www.westvictnp.com.au, calling (03) 9021 0674 or emailing info@westvictnp.com.au.