Adjournment Debate – South West Coast Electorate Energy Supply

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for her to support much-needed electricity infrastructure upgrades in my electorate. This is not the first time I have raised this matter with the minister, but there have been some developments in the situation since the last time it was raised.

The project would upgrade less than 100 kilometres of single-phase lines supplying 1130 customers in the Tyrendarra, Cape Bridgewater, Strathdownie and Gorae West area and is essential to capitalise on my region’s competitive advantages for economic growth and to unlock downstream economic and social value.

The 2019–20 Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report showed that Victoria delivered a record $14.5 billion in exports and is well on track to reach its target of $20 billion in exports by 2030. Given my region is the largest food and fibre production area in the state by farm gate value, this growth again shows the strength of my region, but we need infrastructure that will allow businesses to grow, new businesses to invest and economic diversification and innovation.

This project also has wider implications. The government is continually talking about its renewable energy credentials and its Solar Homes program, but one of the most common complaints into my office is that the antiquated electricity network simply does not allow for people to feed back into the grid. Now, make no mistake, this upgrade will lead to jobs in my region across a range of sectors. That was a point made by the government’s own advisory body Infrastructure Victoria, which included this project in its draft 30-year strategy released late last year.

Powercor has seen the benefits and put forward a funding proposal to the Australian Energy Regulator mid-last year. Unfortunately a draft decision from the AER indicated it would not support the proposal. We are now awaiting a final decision from the AER after further consultation with the Great South Coast Food and Fibre Council executive officer, Natalie Collard, and the chair, Georgina Gubbins, leading to the change to highlight just how important this project is to the south-west food and fibre industry.

Interestingly, in its draft the AER handballed responsibility for the project back to the state government, calling for it to make the contribution. This is a project the state government must get on board with. It is a key project for this Great South Coast group, local government, local businesses and now Infrastructure Victoria.

I provided a letter of support, and I call on the minister, who is here at the table, to do the same. Better yet, Minister, perhaps you could provide the infrastructure upgrade and help unlock the economic prosperity for my region that this project will provide.

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