Western Renewables Link Project

Powerlines over fields

What is the Project?

The Western Victoria Transmission Network Project proposes the development of a new transmission line starting at Bulgana, near Stawell in Victoria’s west, passing through the City of Ballarat, and covering about 190km to the north-western Melbourne suburb of Sydenham. This is a critical infrastructure project required to unlock the renewable energy potential of western Victoria as a key Renewable Energy Zone.  

What is Council doing?

The Western Renewables Link Project is not a Council project and we do not have a role in determining the route of the transmission line or approving the project. Nonetheless, Council acknowledges the project’s potential impacts on the Ballarat community and is advocating on behalf of residents to achieve the best outcome for our community. At its Ordinary meeting on Wednesday 26 May 2021 council resolved the following: 

That Council: 

  • Fully supports renewable energy and the need for its transmission into the electricity network; 
  • Advocates for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project* Environmental Effects Statement process to properly consider underground methods of power transmission and use undergrounding wherever possible; 
  • Advocates for the transmission line route to use existing road, rail and electricity easements wherever possible. 

*Please note the name of the project has changed since this resolution and is now called the Western Renewables Link. 

News about Council’s position on the project is available on the news section of Council's website

As an important stakeholder, Council is also providing input into the project through multiple forums, including: 

  • The EES Technical Reference Group which is an inter-agency group convened by the State Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to advise AusNet Services and the Department on the scoping and adequacy of the technical studies during the preparation of the EES. The EES involves consideration of specific effects including biodiversity and habitat, cultural heritage, landscape and visual, land use, socioeconomic, community amenity, health and safety, roads and transport, catchment values and hydrology. 
  • The Council Advisory Group which is a formal mechanism for local government to be kept up to date about the project and provide feedback to the project proponent, AusNet Services. 
  • The Council CEO Group which is an informal forum hosted by AusNet to support the sharing of information between Council CEOs. 
  • A local Councils collaboration which involves joint advocacy between Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn and Melton Councils. 

Project Delivery

In 2019 Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) completed a Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) which is an economic cost-benefit test used to assess and rank different electricity transmission investment options that address an identified need in the transmission network. Following this RIT-T process, a competitive tender was conducted and in December 2019 AEMO appointed AusNet Services, through its commercial division Mondo, to deliver the project. Mondo’s role is to plan, develop, design, conduct community engagement, construct, own and operate the project.  

In early 2020, an area of interest was identified based on a range of technical investigations on the land between Bulgana and Sydenham. Following community consultation and early investigations, AusNet narrowed down the area of interest to more defined corridors. View the corridor options.

These corridors indicate that several Ballarat residents could be adversely impacted by the project, particularly farmers in the north of the municipality. The technical constraints of the proposed corridors are currently being considered along with further community consultation to identify a single corridor and refine a final route. 

The project is the subject of an Environment Effects Statement (EES) approval process that is the responsibility of the Minister for Planning and is being overseen by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Details about this process can be found at the Planning Victoria website

More information

For more information or to raise any concerns, we encourage you to contact AusNet directly via https://www.westernrenewableslink.com.au/ or by calling 03 9021 0674 and providing them with your thoughts and feedback on the project. 

If you would like to discuss the project with a Council representative please contact Customer Service via email to info@ballarat.vic.gov.au

The City of Ballarat is liaising and collaborating with other councils that are also affected by this project.