10 June 2021
Today more than 200,000 homes and businesses across Victoria are again without power due to fallen or affected electricity infrastructure. Energy providers say it could be days before all outages are fixed.
The stark lesson we should take from this current weather event is that Victoria’s overhead electricity infrastructure is exposed and vulnerable. Today it was the combined Powercor and AusNet Services distribution networks that bore the brunt of the storm, but on 31st January last year it was six of AusNet’s 500 kV overhead transmission towers which blew over at Cressy, near Geelong. That failure took over 10 months to restore.
The Stop AusNet’s Towers (SAT) team suggest that these failures, and the economic losses that go with them, could be a thing of the past if the Victorian State Government were to take smarter options to upgrade the transmission network across the state and to seriously consider ways to reduce, rather than add to, the risks the community already faces.
Emma Muir, SAT Chair said, “our politicians continue to invite foreign owned corporations to design our energy infrastructure using outdated designs which ignore risk, with nothing but offshore profit in mind.”
The cost to the community from widespread outages, like those of today and from the catastrophic devastation of the 2009 Black Saturday fires, is deliberately overlooked by overseas energy corporations.
Aside from the individual losses to businesses and community members left without power, the failure of AusNet’s overhead transmission towers at Cressy last year cost Victorian consumers a further $25.4M when the Australian Energy Regulator approved AusNet’s repair bill to be passed on to consumers’ power bills.
The SAT supports renewable energy and the need to improve the capability of the Western Victoria power system to help Victoria move away from reliance on coal-fired energy. However, it is opposed to doing this with the overhead High Voltage Alternating Current solutions being proposed.
The forerunner of these projects, the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project, is proposing to run 190km of vulnerable overhead line across prime agricultural land, lifestyle property and residential homes from Bulgana (near Ararat) to Sydenham in Melbourne's West.
The SAT team suggests this proposal has been poorly conceived, has not considered the environment, discounts risks and ignores the concerns of the community.
“Overseas Corporations like AusNet have no interest in Australia’s natural environment, long term sustainability, bushfire risk, agriculture, or local economies.”
“It doesn’t make sense to build green energy infrastructure like solar and wind farms, and then transmit that green energy hundreds of kilometres via enormous steel towers, over eighty metres tall, across some of the most productive agricultural land in Australia, if not the world.”
“Low-impact green energy very quickly becomes high-impact energy due to companies like AusNet putting profits first”, said Mrs. Muir.
SAT analysis indicates that underground power transmission is technically feasible and would provide a better and more efficient outcome for all Victorians, with less impact and less risk.
Underground power transmission:
- Eliminates the risk of damage and costly power outages from extreme weather
- Makes the network less susceptible to malicious action
- Offers choices in route selection and opens up the option of using existing corridors and rights of way to avoid environmental and community concerns
- Does not negatively impact agricultural production, interfere with agricultural operations or impose as many restrictions upon landowners whose properties might be subject to overhead HVAC transmission line easements
- Reduces the risk of starting bushfires, avoids the power having to be switched off during bushfires, and does not add risk to the community and emergency services involved in the process of fighting bushfires
- Removes risks to aviation operations including agricultural, firefighting and emergency
- Eliminates micro-shocks and overhead HVAC line corona effects, reducing the possibility of negative health impacts
- Does not lower adjacent property values, destroy the visual amenity of the countryside, or negatively affect economic development opportunities or tourism
- Does not kill eagles and other vulnerable birds.
CONTACT: Emma Muir, MCHPA Chair, 0412 685 404
MORE INFORMATION: stopausnetstowers.com.au or facebook.com/stopausnetstowers
The Stop AusNet's Towers Campaign is powered by the Moorabool and Central Highlands Power Alliance