ElectraNet and TransGrid have announced approval by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) of the regulatory investment test for transmission (RIT-T) for Project EnergyConnect.

ElectraNet Chief Executive Steve Masters said today’s announcement was an important project milestone, with the AER determining the business case for Project EnergyConnect was “robust”.

Mr Masters said the AER also determined the proposed interconnector, between South Australia and New South Wales, remained the most “credible option that maximises the net economic benefit” in the National Electricity Market (NEM), ultimately benefiting electricity customers.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) recently released draft 2020 Integrated System Plan identifies Project EnergyConnect as a ‘no regrets’ project for the national electricity market,” he said.

TransGrid Chief Executive Officer Paul Italiano said TransGrid and ElectraNet were committed to delivering the project at the lowest possible cost with the greatest benefit to energy consumers.

“Project EnergyConnect provides the critical infrastructure needed to enable the sharing of renewable and baseload generation in the National Energy Market,” Mr Italiano said.

Project EnergyConnect supports Australia’s growing renewable energy industry, with up to 30 new wind and solar projects (totalling nearly 5300 megawatts) planned for South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, expected to benefit from the new transmission line.

This would be enough energy to power more than 1.6 million Australian homes.

ElectraNet and TransGrid both acknowledge support for Project EnergyConnect from the South Australian Government which has enabled early works such as line route identification and stakeholder engagement on both sides of the border to progress.

The next step involves both businesses preparing a Contingent Project Application to be lodged with the AER for approval.