The recent announcement by the City of Melbourne in relation to sourcing renewable energy from wind farms located in Moorabool Shire (40 Minutes from Melbourne CBD), does deserve congratulations for their commitment to the transformation to renewable energy. But has anyone thought of the huge cost to livelihoods, agricultural land, property values or the pristine environments that are about to be permanently impacted by the proposed overhead 500kV transmission lines to get the renewable energy to Melbourne? A holistic view is needed when adopting a renewable future. We encourage all users of wind and solar power to do some research on what the future holds for the regions producing the renewable energy.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) completed a Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) in 2019 to assess the technical and economic viability of increasing transmission network capacity to address current limitations, in the Western Victoria transmission network. This was the beginning of the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project.
Moorabool Shire Council (40 minutes from Melbourne CBD) prepared a detailed submission during the consultation with AEMO in June 2019, highlighting the compounding impacts of the state significant projects that are hitting the Shire including the waste facilities (toxic soil dumping), quarries to provide materials to build roads, wind farms to provide the power and the conflicting nature of all of this with substantial urban growth. Our population is due to increase from 32,000 in 2016 to nearly 86,000 in 2051. Looking at the results, this submission was completely ignored, and I sometimes wonder if Moorabool is on the receiving end of modern-day Vikings...
Full details of our submissions are available via this link: https://www.moorabool.vic.gov.au/western-transmission-lines-project
In this submission, Council demanded that the transmission line project be conducted in a manner that has the least impact on our residents, our existing landscape, the natural environment, farming activities, our towns and the growth projected for the Shire. It is Council’s view that the most appropriate way to address our concerns would be through the undergrounding of the powerlines.
A follow up was submitted to AEMO in October 2019. The focus on this submission was the concern of the increased fire danger transmission infrastructure will create if poorly placed.
Not only can transmission lines cause fires and impact high risk human settlement areas, but fires near transmission lines are dangerous, cause damage to the infrastructure and interrupt electricity supply. Poor alignment decisions based on the lowest option will not only put the community at greater risk, but also the transmission infrastructure.
Again, Council reiterated its view that the most appropriate way to address our concerns would be through the undergrounding of the powerlines, ideally for the extent of the project, or at a minimum at key locations where the powerlines are likely to increase the risk to human life due to fire management issues.
Council strongly encourages everyone, whether the project directly impacts you or not, to consult the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project website: www.westvictnp.com.au
Now is the time to re-balance so we do not have winners and losers but seek to consider the needs of all to achieve a greener future for Victoria.
Energy Networks Australia, a peak body in this area, clearly state:
'If there are additional options that have been raised in submissions (read Moorabool's 2 submissions) to the PSCR (Project Specification Consultation Report) or to the later PADR (Project Assessment Draft Report) then these should also be included as credible options, unless the TNSP does not consider them to be commercially or technically feasible (in which case the reasons why should be documented in the PADR and/or the PACR). While a credible option does not need a proponent at the PSCR and PADR stage, the preferred option ultimately needs to have a proponent at the PACR stage (the exception is in Victoria, where AEMO's role as a planner-procurer means a proponent is not required at the PACR stage, as the project will then be put out to tender).’
I think it is a fair question as to why AEMO went to tender for an above ground transmission line with no clearly identified path, and then why the underground option was not considered in the RiT-T and, if not, why the reasons were not presented in the PACR?
Derek Madden - Moorabool Shire Council CEO
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