The Hunter Transmission Project (HTP) will underpin energy security in NSW for generations to come, as the energy system moves from a reliance on coal-fired power to renewables to meet our future energy needs.
The HTP is the most significant upgrade to the State’s core electricity infrastructure in over 40 years.
The State’s existing 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission network was built to transport bulk energy to communities from the State’s coal-fired power stations located within the Hunter-Sydney-Illawarra region.
As the coal-fired power stations close, electricity will need to be imported from the Renewable Energy Zones (REZs). The HTP will facilitate the transfer of electricity generated by the New England, Central-West Orana and Hunter-Central Coast REZs in northern NSW, into the Hunter, Greater Sydney and Illawarra regions.
The HTP will also strengthen the electricity grid as electricity demand continues to grow, making it easier to transport electricity around the Hunter-Sydney-Illawarra regions, where 80% of the State’s electricity is consumed.
The Hunter Transmission Project
The HTP has been identified by both the Commonwealth and State governments as a priority project critical for ensuring ongoing energy security in NSW.
The HTP involves:
- up to 2 x 500 kV double circuit transmission lines between Bayswater and Eraring power stations
- upgrades to existing substations at Bayswater and Eraring Power Stations
- ancillary infrastructure (mostly for constructions).
Priority Transmission Infrastructure Project
The strategic importance of the HTP has been highlighted by both the Commonwealth and State governments.
At the Commonwealth level, the HTP is classified as a “NSW actionable project” under the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Integrated System Plan for the transformation of the National Electricity Market and must be operating by mid-2027.
At the State level, EnergyCo’s Network Infrastructure Strategy identifies the HTP as critical for the delivery of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, which will make electricity in NSW cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable.
The NSW Energy Security Target Monitor has identified the HTP as essential infrastructure to avoid potential breaches of the Energy Security Target following the closure of the Eraring Power Station in 2025.
For these reasons, the NSW Minister for Energy classified the HTP as a Priority Transmission Infrastructure Project and appointed EnergyCo as the Infrastructure Planner under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (the Act).
The NSW Minister for Energy is responsible for determining the requirements and timeframe for the HTP, and to authorise or direct a network operator to carry out the project under the Act.
As the Infrastructure Planner, EnergyCo is responsible for:
- co-ordinating the planning, design, and assessment of the HTP
- undertaking detailed community engagement
- securing approvals
- identifying a suitable network operator
- making recommendations to the Minister.
This includes recommending the best route options for the transmission lines to minimise impacts on the local community and environment.
Critical State Significant Infrastructure
The NSW Minister for Planning has declared the HTP to be Critical State Significant Infrastructure under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979(EP&A Act).
In addition to any approvals required under the Act, this means that the Minister for Planning must approve the HTP under the EP&A Act before it can proceed, and that the merits of the HTP will be subject to comprehensive assessment under the EP&A Act, with extensive community consultation.
This includes the preparation and public exhibition of an Environmental Impact Statement, which assesses the detailed economic, environmental, and social impacts of the project.
EnergyCo is committed to working closely with local communities to improve the design and minimise the impacts of the HTP.
EnergyCo is in the planning stage of the HTP and expects to start detailed community engagement on the project in Q3 2023.