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Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP, Minister for Energy and Mining

The State Government says the re-energising of the Heywood electricity interconnector between South Australia and Victoria highlights the vital need for the proposed interconnector between SA and NSW.

The Heywood Interconnector, which was knocked out during storms on February 1 when towers in Victoria fell, had half its capacity restored on Monday and is expected to be back to its full operational capacity of 650 MW by the end the of the month.

“Whilst we are not completely out of the woods yet, mild weather and careful management through February has helped us cope with the loss of our single largest source of electricity,” said Minister for Energy and Mining van Holst Pellekaan.

“The fact is that if we had another interconnector with New South Wales we wouldn’t have needed to rely on expensive interventions by the Market Operator to keep the lights on.

“An SA–NSW interconnector would have also provided greater security for Victoria, and meant South Australia could have done more to protect the Portland aluminium smelter from irreparable damage.

“AEMO directed emergency measures such as managing our four big batteries to ensure the survival of the Portland smelter and the 3000 jobs associated with it, and that was the right thing to do.

“We had to weigh the risks of blackouts in South Australia if something went wrong at the smelter whilst we were trying to save it, versus the near certainty of the smelter at Portland being irreparably damaged and 3,000 jobs lost if we did not agree to supply electricity from South Australia.

“Had the SA–NSW interconnector been in place there would have been no need to choose between saving jobs in Victoria and keeping the lights on in South Australia, as South Australia could have more easily supported the smelter via New South Wales.

“Better interconnection will significantly reduce the risk of blackouts whilst delivering cheaper and cleaner power across the NEM.”

The SA–NSW interconnector will run between Robertstown, in South Australia’s mid-north, and Wagga Wagga, in New South Wales, via Buronga and with an additional line between Buronga and Red Cliffs, in Victoria

Its 800 MW capacity will be able to deliver enough energy to power 240,000 homes.

Independent modelling indicates that typical residential electricity bills are estimated to reduce annually by about $66 in South Australia and $30 in NSW.

For small businesses, bills are estimated to reduce annually by $132 in South Australia and $71 in NSW. These savings are estimated to start flowing after the project’s completion.

Download a copy of this news release (PDF 104 KB)

Wednesday 19 February 2020