NSW-South Australia electricity interconnector a renewable energy win for both states

A proposed electricity interconnector between New South Wales and South Australia could deliver cheaper electricity, improve energy security, and support the transition from coal and gas to renewables.

The project involves building a 916 kilometre, 330 kV interconnector transmission line from Wagga Wagga in NSW to Robertstown in SA at a cost of $1.73 billion.

It would have capacity of approximately 800 MW and be able to transfer power in either direction. It would also run a ‘spur’ into northern Victoria near Mildura.

Electricity interconnector between SA and NSW expected to deliver cheaper power.

Long-distance electricity interconnector line between SA and NSW expected to deliver cheaper power.

Transmission companies ElectraNet (SA) and TransGrid (NSW) are behind the project, which still needs approval from the Australian Energy Regulator. However, ElectraNet says it expects a final decision by the middle of 2019.

If the project gets the green light, it should be completed by the time the NSW Liddell coal-fired plant closes in 2022.

Electricity interconnector benefits for both states

The electricity interconnector’s supporters say it would deliver substantial benefits for both NSW and SA.

Benefits for South Australia:

  • Access to surplus power from interstate. This includes the proposed Snowy 2.0 project in NSW.
  • Cost savings of around $66 per annum for households.
  • Displacement of high-cost gas generation in the state, especially when combined with pumped hydro and battery storage.
  • Make the state more attractive for investment in renewable energy projects, such as large-scale solar installations and wind farms.

South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan told ABC News his state is currently “at the end of the line” on the national energy network and needs to become “part of the loop”.

He believes another connection to two states, NSW and Victoria, will give SA more flexibility to share demand and supply.

Benefits for New South Wales include:

  • Household electricity cost savings of approximately $30 per annum.
  • Delivery of wind and solar power resources from SA to the state, in turn improving access to lower-cost renewable energy resources.
  • Facilitating the transition from coal to low-emissions energy generation, especially given the imminent retirement of the Liddell coal-fired power station.

TransGrid and ElectraNet both describe the electricity interconnector as a “transformational change” for the energy sector. ElectraNet expects it to deliver benefits of around $2.45 billion to customers.