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Thank you: How community feedback is shaping the Hunter Transmission Project

13 May 2024
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By James Hay

Chief Executive at EnergyCo

To the Hunter community – thank you for your invaluable feedback on the Hunter Transmission Project (HTP) so far. 

The Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) invited input, suggestions and local knowledge on a preliminary (or draft) corridor for the HTP in late 2023. We received more than 250 submissions and dozens of in-person conversations took place, which allowed us to engage early on the project and collect feedback that has led to a revised corridor. 

The HTP is critical as NSW’s remaining coal-fired power stations close. 

The new 500 kilovolt transmission line will deliver electricity to the grid from the Renewable Energy Zones in the New England and Central-West Orana regions. 

This clean energy from solar and wind will provide us with a reliable electricity supply for our homes and businesses in years to come. 

The overwhelming majority of the early feedback we received was constructive. 

The need for the HTP itself isn’t in question. 

The community has told us that their clear top priority as we build the HTP is protecting the environment and biodiversity. 

This is closely followed by protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage (particularly in the State forests), impacts to private land and protecting scenic landscapes. 

The early feedback hasn’t just allowed us to listen to community views, suggestions and local knowledge – it has helped to shape the project. 

We’ve significantly revised the corridor in ways that will further minimise the HTP’s impacts on people and the environment. 

Changes to the corridor were possible because of successful early community engagement – and our team’s commitment to finding the best possible solutions.   

Here are just some of the highlights: 

  • Around 85% of the HTP will be on power station, government and mining land. 
  • The number of potentially affected private landowners within the revised corridor has been reduced from 78 to less than 25. 
  • Avoiding Cooranbong and Martinsville in HTP South is made possible by building a new substation on a site in the Olney State Forest that was previously used for growing commercial timber. 
  • The new Olney substation allows the HTP to follow a more direct route to the south so the revised corridor is around 15 kilometres shorter.  
  • The revised corridor minimises impacts in parts of the State forests that are culturally significant for the Aboriginal community and traditional owners, including scenic landscapes or sightlines. 

The revised corridor avoids the Jilliby State Conservation Area and other recreation areas including the Pines in the Olney State Forest. 

Route selection and a desire to use existing transmission lines instead of building a new easement was another strong theme in the early community feedback we received. 

We’ll continue engaging with the community on the reasons we can’t use the existing infrastructure. The existing lines are too small to carry energy from our Renewable Energy Zones, but we’ll need them to keep the lights on while we build new lines like the HTP. It’s possible we may need a second 500 kV transmission line (HTP2) in the future. This could be achieved by upgrading the existing 330 kV easement – because the HTP will be able to provide energy security while it’s upgraded. 

The Hunter is at the heart of the State’s energy transition, and we appreciate the value community is adding to the HTP. If you’re interested in knowing more about the project and the revised corridor, please read our new report Shaping the HTP.

[This article was originally published in the Newcastle Herald.]