What are we waiting for? Barriers to Renewable Energy Transmission
Our current system involves all of us paying for new transmission lines via our energy bills. This user-pays system has limitations. Because consumers pay for the cost, federal regulators do not allow comprehensive environmental or social management programs to be part of the cost of transmission lines, even though they have environmental and social impacts.
For example, where a community has identified a preferable route that is more expensive, there is little room for transmission companies to go for that alternate route.
There are also limitations on how much transmission companies can budget for compensating landowners for access to their property.
State governments in recognition of the relatively urgent need to build renewable energy transmission lines have started to front up more funding. Federal Labor has promised $20 billion in their Re-Wiring the Nation policy.
RE-Alliance have been advocating for more federal funding to be dedicated to rolling out the renewable energy transmission lines we need. This will take pressure off energy bills and pass it on to our federal tax system, which will spread the cost over corporations and individuals in a way that will take bill stress off low-income households.
Expedited planning and approvals
The Regulatory Test for Transmission (RIT-T) administered by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is a massive hurdle transmission companies must jump to get the green light to build new transmission lines.
This process currently takes years to go through, a significant setback to achieving emissions reduction targets & meeting Paris Agreement goals, and to achieving cost savings for businesses and households from the delivery of cheaper renewable energy.
Due to the shortfalls of the slow and cumbersome RIT-T process, Victoria & New South Wales have passed legislation allowing them to set up their own frameworks for transmission line regulation.
Federal regulators now face a choice between changing their rules to meet the challenges of the present day, or have states move away from the national framework.
A fair deal for impacted communities
It’s been decades since the last grid infrastructure build of this magnitude.
Community expectations about involvement in planning and what constitutes fair payment for land use has changed significantly in that time.
Transmission companies do not have a great reputation for high quality community consultation. Regulations provide little incentive for companies to involve local communities in route selection and design.
Many concerns around transmission lines can be mitigated with accurate information about safety and compatibility with agricultural land use.
RE-Alliance have been advocating for:
- Transmission companies to improve consultation and community involvement in route selection and design
- State & Federal regulations to allow for fairer compensation for land use, environmental management and community benefit sharing to be included in project costs.
More on our recommendations for companies and policymakers can be found in our report Building Trust for Transmission.