Powering Sydney's Future

  

 

Marking the completion of Transgrid's $200 million 20km high voltage underground cable is an important opportunity to remind stakeholders of the NSW Government energy strategy, including critical transmission infrastructure like this project. 330 kilovolts futureproofing Sydney’s growing energy requirements.

  • I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to elders past and present.
  • It is a great pleasure to be here today to celebrate the completion of the construction for Transgrid’s Powering Sydney’s Future project.
  • This is an important project for building a more reliable and affordable electricity supply for the people who live, work and play in Sydney.
  • There are over eight million people who live in NSW, and approximately sixty-four per cent of them live in Greater Sydney.
  • As a city that is uniquely surrounded by outstanding natural landscapes, but also has some of the best opportunities in the world for work, education and lifestyle, it is no wonder why Sydney’s population continues to grow.
  • However, with a growing population, it is vitally important that our essential infrastructure grows with it and is well prepared to support the city of the future.
  • The Powering Sydney’s Future project is an important part of supporting this growth, by ensuring that ageing transmission infrastructure is both upgraded, as well as added to, to secure a reliable electricity supply through economically viable solutions.
  • The installation of a new 20-kilometre 300 kilovolt underground cable is the centrepiece of this project.
  • This new cable will secure reliable energy for almost one million people.
  • After construction commenced in early August 2020, it is exciting to now be coming together to mark the completion of this phase.

NSW Government involvement

  • The NSW Government’s main role in this project has been to assess its benefits and impacts, as the authority for granting consent to its development.
  • Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the project was classified as State Significant Infrastructure
  • In October and November 2019, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment exhibited the Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
  • Then in May 2020, the Department’s Assessment Report, and its determination that the project is in the public interest and should be approved, were provided.
  • It is worth reflecting on some of the key points made in the Assessment Report at that time.
  • As we have discussed, the project is designed to improve the security and reliability of inner Sydney’s electricity network, for the benefit of households, businesses, industry and the wider community.
  • The Assessment Report noted demand for electricity in the inner Sydney area over recent years has increased significantly.
  • Further, in 2016, the Australian Energy Market Operator had reported that augmentation of the network was necessary to address aging infrastructure, cater for forecast increases in energy demand and provide additional security during periods of peak demand.
  • The importance, scale and complexity of the project is evident in its classification as State Significant Infrastructure.
  • The project has involved construction and operation of a new high voltage underground transmission cable between the existing Rookwood Road substation in Potts Hill and the Beaconsfield West substation in Alexandria.
  • The cable route is approximately 20 kilometres long and trenched under the road carriage way.
  • There were a number of complexities involved with undergrounding this important cable in a highly urban environment, and it involved a number of special crossings of infrastructure or watercourses.
  • These included crossings of heavy and light rail lines, the Cooks River and the wetlands in Sydney Park.
  • Now that the cable has been completed, I think it is also worth reflecting on how the impacts of the project were identified and managed.
  • Transgrid, as the project proponent, became subject to a number of conditions in the development approval.
  • It was required to actively engage with the community in relation to the works so that it:
    • minimised and managed night works
    • provided respite for particularly noisy activities
    • avoided impacts on high retention value trees, and
    • involved the relevant Councils in managing traffic and other impacts.
  • It is great that since that consent was granted, we can now celebrate the conclusion of these works.
  • I would also like to acknowledge that, from the Government’s perspective, there has been comparatively few issues raised during the project’s construction.
  • This is a testament to the capability and capacity of Transgrid and its contractors in effectively planning and managing each stage of the project, as well as the high level of engagement with the directly impacted communities along the route at each stage of construction.
  • In granting consent, the Government recognised the project would provide major social and economic benefits.
  • These benefits were recognised as accruing to the Sydney CBD and inner Sydney, and to wider NSW, including:
    • shoring up the city’s critical high voltage electricity network
    • contributing to a reliable, secure and affordable source of electricity
    • generating a direct capital investment of well over $200 million
    • creating 140 jobs during the construction period.
  • In short, this project is critical for the continued growth of Sydney.

Project’s alignment with the NSW Government’s wider policy aims

  • No doubt many of you here today would be aware of the challenges confronting the east coast electricity and gas markets this winter.
  • A range of international and domestic factors have been at play here including high commodity prices, weather events and repairs and maintenance issues in the energy supply chain.
  • The NSW Government and the national energy market regulatory and operational bodies have been working through these issues to manage the immediate risks to the system.
  • This work continues as the Government engages with the energy market bodies, the Commonwealth, other governments, and market participants to assess and manage conditions in the energy market.
  • I would also like to highlight the Government’s plans to strengthen our energy security in the medium term and provide a structural response to issues arising for our energy security today.
  • The NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap sets out our 20-year plan to deliver the generation, storage, firming and transmission infrastructure we need to power NSW into the future.
  • The Roadmap is enabled by the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 and builds on the foundations of the 2019 Electricity Strategy and the 2018 Transmission Infrastructure Strategy.
  • The reality is that four out of the State’s five coal-fired power stations, currently providing around three quarters of the State’s energy supply, are scheduled to close within the next 15 years, starting in 2023.
  • NSW needs to ensure we have the next generation of energy infrastructure in place to keep our electricity cheap and reliable.
  • The Roadmap is the Government’s plan to deliver this major electricity infrastructure.
  • It will:
    • drive investment in regional NSW
    • deliver energy storage infrastructure, particularly long-duration storage
    • deliver Renewable Energy Zones
    • keep the grid secure and reliable
    • harness opportunities for industry by empowering new and revitalised industries with cheap, reliable and low emissions energy.
  • The Roadmap will do this by supporting the private sector to bring 12 gigawatts of renewable energy and two gigawatts of storage, such as pumped hydro, online by 2030.

Conclusion

  • Transmission projects such as Powering Sydney’s Future are key to a bright energy future for NSW.
  • They are the energy highways that support delivery of the cheap, clean and reliable electricity the NSW Government is targeting.
  • I commend Transgrid for this important project and am sure it will contribute to meeting the ever-changing energy needs of the Sydney of tomorrow and beyond.
  • Thank you for your invitation to join you here today, and I congratulate you for reaching this significant milestone.