RE-Alliance is actively engaged in New South Wales on community engagement and environment issues associated with renewable energy and transmission projects.
We welcome to opportunity to respond to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the feasibility of undergrounding the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects.
In general, there are many ways for transmission lines to be designed and planned in response to community feedback. Improvements to community engagement are critical for renewable energy developers and for transmission. This engagement should specifically include:
- Landholders and asset owners who host, or could host energy infrastructure (be they generation assets, transmission lines or other network infrastructure
- Local community members and groups
- Local Councils and State Planning Departments
- First Nations and Traditional Owner groups
- Environment and other special interest groups.
We note there are major equity and environmenntal challenges to undergrounding of transmission. Underground lines are significantly more expensive for energy consumers and have environmental and land-use impacts from the extensive digging required to build and ongoing access requirements to operate and maintain buried assets. There are cases, though, where undergrounding may be the right option and we outline these in our response.
Our response to this inquiry draws from existing reports, research and experience on the ground from our community coordinators. Our comments respond to the terms of reference and other issues, including:
- The costs and benefits of undergrounding
- Existing case studies and current projects regarding similar undergrounding of transmission lines in both domestic and international contexts
- Any impact on delivery timeframes of undergrounding
- Any environmental impacts of undergrounding
- Transmission and fire risk
- Climate action, renewable energy and transmission
- No transmission or transition without regional and rural Australia