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Energy, Government NSW

NSW backs defective power plan which hikes bills & torches the bush

Lighthouse Communications Group 3 mins read

NSW backs defective power plan which hikes bills & torches the bush

Government agencies and think tank voice concern over overhead transmission


The NSW Government is recklessly pushing ahead with HumeLink, a $5 billion, 365-kilometre overhead transmission project through southern NSW. This is despite serious safety and environmental concerns from within its own departments, a coalition of community groups have said.

The groups are increasingly anxious that the Government is ignoring expert advice about the dangerous overhead HumeLink transmission project which will add up to $40 to energy bills, simply because alternative, safer options such as undergrounding do not suit the political agenda. For people in NSW and the ACT, this removes any cost-of-living benefits from yesterday’s announcement by The Australian Energy Regulator regarding electricity prices.

Spokesperson for the coalition of community groups, Stop, Rethink HumeLink, Michael Katz said NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe appeared conflicted in her multiple roles as Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Energy, Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage.

“The minister can no longer see the wood from the trees when it comes to transmission infrastructure and proper process,” he said. “The cost of this dodgy project also erodes the cost-of-living benefits announced yesterday by whacking another $20-$40 on every bill. “Her public support for the overhead proposal ignores her own Departmental experts who warn the project will have “irreversible impacts” on critically endangered ecological communities and threatened species.”

In response to Transgrid’s EIS for the project, government agencies including Fire and Rescue and NSW Environment and Heritage raised serious concerns about environmental, public safety, and cultural heritage impacts.

Separately, the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) said that bypassing proper regulatory, environmental, and economic assessments on projects such as HumeLink, governments were exposing NSW households to billions of dollars in cost blowouts.

“The Minister appears intent on spending $5bn on old, dangerous technology in order to be seen to be actively driving the transition to renewables to a political timeline, rather than getting the best outcomes for the environment and people of NSW,” Mr Katz said.

“The Government is failing to consider the damage it will have on the environment, public safety, and network reliability. HumeLink in its current form will cost energy users more over time, desecrate the environment and condemn the people of NSW to a future of unreliable power delivery.

“You only have to look at the issues raised by NSW Government agencies in response to the HumeLink EIS and the recent collapse of transmission pylons in Victoria, to realise the major risks that HumeLink presents in its current form.”

Among the most explosive submissions by Government agencies, is one from the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) which stressed the importance of resilient transmission infrastructure in fire events and recommends the undergrounding of transmission lines.

It said transmission lines, in accordance with the Planning for Bush Fire Protection (PBP) 2019 guidelines, should be put underground “to limit the possibility of ignition of surrounding bushland and to enhance protection of critical infrastructure in the event of bush fires.”

The Department of Planning and Environment’s Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Directorate (BCS) expressed grave concerns about the project's potential for "Serious and Irreversible Impact (SAII)" on critically endangered ecological communities (CEECs) and threatened species. The agency identified potential SAII risks to Box Gum Woodland and Tableland Basalt Forest communities, along with critically endangered orchids and the smoky mouse.

“On top of these concerns by the Government’s own agencies, we have seen serious questions raised over the bypassing of crucial regulatory, environmental, and economic assessments,” Mr Katz said. “As highlighted by the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), a lack of regulatory transparency exposes NSW households to a $9 billion cost blowout for projects that have not gone through the mandatory consultation process set out in regulations. This is counter to Government commitments to ease the cost-of-living crisis.”

Based on Transgrid’s own costings, the indicative customer bill impact resulting from the delivery of HumeLink will see residents face an extra $25.24 per annum in 2026-2027 and small business customers an average increase of $50.16 per annum in the same year – numbers which the community groups believe is likely to be a massive understatement.

“The Government’s enthusiasm for an overhead HumeLink appears to be driven by collusion between regulators and industry, not what’s best for the community,” Mr Katz said.

“Throughout the whole process, the industry has made unsubstantiated claims to further the case for old technology that will deliver returns for shareholders. These claims are contradictory to independent transmission experts’ advice.

“Before rubberstamping this project, the Government needs to have a truly independent review of all options. This should include consideration of a proposal by internationally recognised energy transmission engineering consultancy, Amplitude Consultants, for an underground transmission line along a revised route that Transgrid has labelled ‘credible’, which would only be marginally more costly than the preferred overhead line.”


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Contact details:

Terri Murphy    0439 140 392
Warwick Ponder   0408 410 593



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