AEMO’s Renewable Energy Roadmap Doesn’t Consider Locals Fighting Power, Says Policy Expert

An energy expert says he is “skeptical” of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) target of building five major transmission projects within the next 10 years.

Yesterday AEMO has released its 30-year roadmap for the grid’s transition from fossil fuels to renewables, which would require more than $12 billion in investment in new transmission lines that should be started “as urgently as possible” to ensure security of supply over the next decade .

Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Energy Policy Center, said strong community opposition to energy projects, such as the recently renamed Western Renewables Link in Victoriadelayed the construction of vital infrastructure.

“I am quite skeptical that many of the transmission augmentations [AEMO] envisions may continue in this timeline,” he said.

“Because there is a fair amount of resistance on environmental and other grounds and I think there is no doubt that we need to consider the social impact of transmission projects.”

Mr Mountain said government intervention in the commissioning process was needed for the Western Renewables Link as opposition to the project had created a “stalemate”.

“I think the arguments on this are pretty clear and I’m not sure if they’ve been heard – I don’t think the Integrated System Plan (ISP) is the right forum,” he said.

“The ISP is a much more limited technical exercise by the energy market operator, which has no specific mandate when considering social licensing.”

AusNet’s proposed corridor for the Western Renewables Link, formally known as the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project.Supplied: AusNet

The ISP is AEMO’s planning mechanism for the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The primary goal is to optimize value for end users by designing the cheapest and most secure energy system.

“There is a role for the government in solving the problems,” Mr. Mountain said.

“This is a broader policy, which is not the role of energy market institutions.

An electricity tower, seen from below, rises in a blue sky.
As part of the project, AusNet would install 85-foot-tall pylons in farmers’ paddocks.Delivered

‘Just getting scammed’

Farmers have been campaigning for years against the Western Renewables Link, which proposes 500 kilovolt power lines that could be as high as 85 meters.

Opponents say the power lines will cause major disruptions to horticultural production, increase fire risk and cause emotional distress.

Farmers are also now facing the prospect of an additional transmission line – the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) – identified as a priority in AEMO’s report.

It is envisaged that this energy project will run from the proposed new energy hub at Newlyn to Bendigo and then further north to utilize the Snowy Hydro network in New South Wales.

Fifth-generation Newlyn potato grower and chairman of the Kingston and District Power Alliance, Kain Richardson, said the VNI West would be two 500 kV transmission lines that would connect to the Western Renewables link to supply power to Melbourne.

“We are on the edge of the VNI West,” he said.

“We have advocated that the state will soon be covered in power lines and that all communities should be aware of it.

A map showing the electricity infrastructure spanning Australia.
The NEM connects every state and territory except WA and NT. This map shows some of the main transmission infrastructure of the network.Supplied: AEMO

Mr Richardson said regional communities are being unfairly burdened by the proposed major infrastructure projects that would benefit energy consumers in capital cities.

“It’s not even for the greater benefit of our communities — we’re just getting ripped off and we’re going to have to pay for this poor planning,” he said.

“There is a huge impact on horticulture and eventually the loss of capital will be in these places and that could put some farmers in very difficult positions financially.

†[AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman] has very little idea of ​​the impact and lack of social license his organization has.”

AusNet Services, AEMO and several state and federal ministers have been approached by the ABC for comment.

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