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Massive Victorian power outages expose risks of overhead transmission

Lighthouse Communications Group 3 mins read

Massive Victorian power outages expose risks of overhead transmission

Community demands undergrounding ahead of NSW hearing

 

Community groups have expressed serious concern over the collapse of overhead transmission towers in Victoria, resulting in widespread power outages – the largest in the state's history.

The groups say the Victorian crisis highlights the urgent need to re-evaluate the country’s reliance on overhead transmission infrastructure and consider more resilient alternatives such as undergrounding.

The call also comes ahead of tomorrow's Select Committee hearing into the Feasibility of Undergrounding the Transmission Infrastructure for Renewable Energy Projects in NSW Parliament which is likely to hear more industry-sourced “evidence” about how “safe and robust” overhead towers are. This is clearly not the case!

Stop, Rethink HumeLink, which represents three major community groups in southern NSW, wants responsible renewable energy development, and is calling for a decisive shift towards undergrounding transmission lines as a matter of urgency.

Spokesperson for the HumeLink Alliance, Michael Katz, said that undergrounding is indisputably safer and more cost-effective than traditional overhead construction.

"The timing of the collapse of these towers in Victoria is extraordinary,” Mr Katz said. “These events highlight the inherent risks of overhead lines, and we are witnessing the consequences of neglecting safer, more resilient solutions in real time.”

The HumeLink Alliance emphasizes that while the regulatory focus has been on the upfront construction costs of undergrounding, a holistic economic approach considers all lifecycle costs of a project, including maintenance, repairs, and potential disruptions like the recent outages – which AusNet puts at $25 million alone for the six Victorian towers.

The estimate by AusNet almost certainly does not cover the consequential cost to consumers and businesses of being without power for days and weeks.

The HumeLink Alliance refutes claims that undergrounding is not feasible, pointing to the comprehensive analysis by experts which revealed the long-term financial, societal, and environmental benefits.

“The outage in Victoria has caused substantial economic losses but also highlights the vulnerability of communities reliant on overhead transmission infrastructure,” Mr Katz said.

"We cannot ignore the human toll of these failures. Families and businesses have suffered significant losses already, amplifying the urgency for responsible decision-making when it comes to energy infrastructure planning, nationally.

 

The HumeLink project has been entangled in controversy due to discrepancies in Transgrid’s costing reports, and their unwillingness to follow due process and reapply the RIT-T despite significant material change in circumstances, underscoring the need for transparency and accountability when it comes to Australia’s energy projects.

"We should not, and will not, overlook discrepancies or let Transgrid bypass due process when it suits them. The stakes are far too high,” Mr Katz warned.

“These transmission companies continue to either deny or downplay the risks associated with overhead transmission lines and government are buying it. But the consequences are playing out right before our very eyes.”

As Australia confronts escalating natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, including several active bushfires burning around the country, the imperative to invest in resilient infrastructure becomes increasingly evident.

"We must learn from history,” Mr Katz said. “The inherent risks, not to mention ongoing maintenance costs, associated with overhead lines make them an ongoing safety and economic liability, particularly in the face of escalating climate instability.”

The HumeLink Alliance believes the path forward demands a paradigm shift towards solutions that prioritise safety, sustainability, resilience  and the long-term well-being of our nation, the environment and the people who call Australia home.

In the aftermath of the Victorian outage, with tens of thousands of homes and businesses still without power and essential services strained, it is clear that swift action is needed.

"We cannot afford to wait while more irresponsible overhead transmission lines are strung up around the country. The time to stop, rethink, and embrace a safer energy future is now, or what future will we have?” Mr Katz said.

 

 

-ENDS-


Contact details:

Lighthouse
Terri Murphy    0439 140 392
Warwick Ponder   0408 410 593

 

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