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Plan for transmission opportunities

A renewable-energy advocacy leader with a focus on a western Victorian transmission to renewables has highlighted communication as integral to seizing opportunities.

RE-Alliance Victoria and Tasmania co-ordinator Tony Goodfellow attended a Grampians New Energy Taskforce forum at Ararat, which brought together leaders in western Victoria to discuss a net zero by 2050 target in the region’s agricultural industry.

Speakers at the Ararat forum included representatives from ThinkAgri, Toyota, GWMWater, Regen Farmers Mutual and Wimmera Development Association, WDA.

Mr Goodfellow said communication of renewable energy and transmission-line opportunities in the Wimmera remained integral to the capture of any economic and environmental potential.

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He submitted a statement to The Weekly Advertiser about his view of western Victoria being a ‘powerhouse’ of a Victorian renewables transition. 

This is his statement –

Western Victoria is set to be the powerhouse of the state.

Australians are feeling the pressure of cost of living increases, with supermarket staples and petrol prices rising, and now, the Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO, says we should also expect our power prices to increase. 

In its latest snapshot of the National Electricity Market, AEMO said households should brace for rising energy costs, which are partly the result of power supply shortages from outages at and closures of coal-fired power stations.

States that are more dependent on coal – NSW and Queensland – will be hit particularly hard by these increased prices. Without renewable energy generation and, crucially, the transmission infrastructure to send the electricity where it is needed, communities will pay the price. 

Western Victoria is fortunate to have plentiful sun and wind resources. 

We already have operational wind and solar farms – 32.5 percent of Australia’s energy came from renewable sources in 2021 – and even more are planned. But what good is all this clean energy without a means to transport it to our communities, where it is needed?

That’s why transmission infrastructure is crucial – and a local project is already underway.

The Western Victoria Transmission Line is a critical element in Australia’s energy transition. Not only will it reduce Victorians’ power prices, but it will also unlock opportunities for Western Victoria and play a key part in decarbonising our country.  

Billions of dollars of investment in solar and wind farms throughout Western Victoria rely on this project to carry electricity to Melbourne consumers. With so much benefit for the region, it’s important to plan for how the community can make the most of these opportunities – opportunities that can help build thriving regional communities.

The cost of not acting on climate change is great. 

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, report has reinforced the urgency of reducing emissions. It’s a race against time. 

Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC working group that produced the report, says it is ‘now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible’. The transmission line will help keep our communities and environment safe by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. 

The quicker we can switch to renewable energy, the more likely we are to limit global heating and mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change. 

A cleaner, greener future with cheaper power is possible if transmission infrastructure projects, like in Western Victoria, have widespread support. But consulting with and compensating affected communities, as well as addressing environmental issues of projects, is paramount. 

Community and environmental issues need to be addressed through the assessment process and the company needs to ensure it abides by the code of conduct in relation to landowners and community. 

Protests around the section of the line nearer to Melbourne suggest there is room for improvement in how the proponent works with the community.

We also need strong leadership from government. 

Director of Monash Energy Institute Ariel Liebman said the most important actions the government can take right now is to ensure investment in electricity grid transformation and its market policy support. 

Leadership is also needed to train the workforce needed for the transition. 

We’re already seeing the consequences of a lack of preparedness in our energy transition, in the form of rising energy prices for households. 

We need a plan for our renewables infrastructure, and soon, because there’s no transition without transmission.

The entire May 18, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!