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Energy operator backs transmission network overhaul

The head of the Australian Energy Market Operator says new transmission lines are a core part of a low-carbon energy system fit for the 21st century.


AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman speaks to media during a press conference in Sydney. Image AAP

The nation's energy market operator says it is doing everything it can to ease community worries about new transmission infrastructure.


Australian Energy Market Operator chief executive Daniel Westerman said the overhaul of the transmission network was necessary to connect new sources of clean energy with energy users.


"But rolling out new transmission, something not done at scale in Australia for decades, needs government and community support," he told the Australian Financial Review Energy and Climate Summit on Monday.


Mr Westerman acknowledged the concerns of communities in the path of the planned power lines.


As the grid planner for Victoria, the market operator has faced opposition from local communities and landholders over major new transmission lines, with inadequate consultation a common complaint.


"We are providing as much clarity as we can, as early as we can, to narrow the proposed routes of new transmission lines," Mr Westerman said.


"We're doing this as quickly as we are able, to alleviate community uncertainty."


In the case of the VNI West project in western Victoria, he said the organisation had consulted with about 500 properties within the narrowed draft corridor since late August. 


"I know it's not easy for everyone to accept, but transmission lines are a core part of the national energy upgrade, to deliver energy reliably and at the lowest possible cost to all of us, wherever we live," he said.


The energy market boss said the task of building trust and acquiring a social licence for major projects was beyond the scope of a single market operator, or a single transmission company.


"Securing social licence is a whole-of-government and whole-of-industry effort, reliant on community involvement," he said.


"That's where industry and developer collaboration with governments is crucial."


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