Question mark over grid project
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