Ques­tion mark over grid project

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

It re­mains un­clear whether the Wim­mera­mallee is in the hunt to be part of State Govern­ment plans to de­velop grid-scale bat­ter­ies in western Vic­to­ria.

Lat­est of­fi­cial com­ment from the govern­ment was that as­sess­ments for large-scale bat­tery stor­age were un­der­way af­ter the govern­ment re­ceived about 100 ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for the project.

But fur­ther de­tails were un­avail­able based on com­mer­cial-in-con­fi­dence ne­go­ti­a­tions.

All en­ergy Min­is­ter Lily D’am­bro­sio was pre­pared to say was that the gov­er­ment was mak­ing sure Vic­to­ria was equipped with the next gen­er­a­tion of en­ergy tech­nolo­gies to sup­port a more re­silient en­ergy sys­tem.

The govern­ment an­nounced early this year it had iden­ti­fied the north-west of the state, in par­tic­u­lar Horsham and Bendigo, and the south­west, in­clud­ing Terang, as pri­or­ity lo­ca­tions for bat­tery-based power stor­age.

At the time, it called on the pri­vate sec­tor for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est to build new bat­ter­ies in western Vic­to­ria where the Aus­tralian En­ergy Mar­ket Op­er­a­tor had iden­ti­fied op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove elec­tric­ity grid re­li­a­bil­ity.

The project brief called for pro­pos­als that could read­ily be de­liv­ered in the trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion net­work to sup­port grid re­li­a­bil­ity.

The govern­ment an­nounced in Jan­uary it would com­mit $5-mil­lion as part of the com­pet­i­tive ten­der process.

Ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est closed on March 1 and the govern­ment plan­ning sched­ule in­volved work­ing with Aus­tralian Re­new­able En­ergy Agency and Aus­tralian En­ergy Mar­ket Opera- tor to sign con­tracts in June, for in­stal­la­tion to hap­pen from July to Novem­ber and the bat­tery to be op­er­a­tional for next sum­mer.

Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion seized the op­por­tu­nity, an­nounc­ing it planned to as­sess how it could help in any part­ner­ships that would en­cour­age the project to oc­cur in the Wim­mera.

But the Victorian Op­po­si­tion has jumped on the is­sue, claim­ing the govern­ment had ‘gone silent’ on a $25-mil­lion com­mit­ment to de­ploy grid-scale bat­tery-stor­age fa­cil­i­ties in western Vic­to­ria.

Op­po­si­tion en­ergy spokesman David Southwick ac­cused min­is­ter D’am­bro­sio of a back­flip and ‘re­fus­ing to take re­spon­si­bil­ity’.

He said con­struc­tion of two 20-megawatt bat­ter­ies was due to start in Au­gust to be ready by Jan­uary, but com­mis­sion­ing of diesel gen­er­a­tors over sum­mer was ‘an ad­mis­sion of fail­ure to se­cure en­ergy sup­ply to the state’.

“With only six weeks to dead­line for com­ple­tion of the bat­ter­ies it seems as though La­bor has yet again failed to guar­an­tee Victorian en­ergy sup­ply,” he said.

“The La­bor govern­ment needs to come out and tell us what has hap­pened with this $25-mil­lion com­mit­ment they made and why their orig­i­nal plan has failed.”

“The La­bor govern­ment needs to come out and tell us what has hap­pened with this $25-mil­lion com­mit­ment they made and why their orig­i­nal plan has failed” – David Southwick

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