AusNet has begun sending landholders compensation valuations for the right to acquire an easement on their property for the proposed Western Renewables Link (WRL) project.
The easements will enable Victoria to build a critical 190 kilometre transmission line that will be capable of carrying more than 3000MW, power more than one million homes, and will unlock at least $9 billion of renewable energy generation investment in western Victoria.
More than a dozen compensation offers have so far been sent with the remainder to follow in coming months. Compensation ranges from hundreds of thousands to multi-million dollar offers.
AusNet’s Chief Development Officer, Jon D’Sylva, said the offers are a significant step towards negotiating compensation with landholders who will host transmission lines for the Western Renewables Link.
“The payments are intended to recognise the important role that landholders play in hosting critical transmission infrastructure. This infrastructure is vital to connect renewable energy which will enhance the reliability of the grid, cut the state’s carbon emissions and put downward pressure on power bills as coal-fired power stations shut down,” Mr D’Sylva said.
“The amount of compensation will vary for each landholder and is based on a valuation by an independent and accredited valuer. Landholders are encouraged to seek their own valuations which will be paid for by the project.
“In addition to the market value compensation assessment, landholders will also be compensated for disturbance to their property and operations, for example to sheds, fencing and crops,” added Mr D’Sylva.
The value of compensation is based on the difference between the market value before and after the easement, known as the market value depreciation. This includes any loss in the market value of the property including loss due to severance and loss of special value.
The compensation evaluations are an important step in working towards a commercial arrangement with landholders and to provide them with certainty about the payments and compensation they will receive. They are being provided to allow landholders sufficient time to consider the compensation offers, seek their own independent advice, and have input into property access arrangements to be used during construction if the project is approved.
This proposed WRL project compensation is in addition to the payment announced in February this year by the State Government of $8,000 per year per kilometre of new transmission easement hosted for 25 years, totalling $200,000.
“We recognise that the process required to investigate the feasibility of the Western Renewables Link has been stressful for local communities. We have listened to the community, and we are making changes where possible to ease that stress. As a direct result of engagement, we have so far made 95 route changes in response to landholder feedback and technical assessments,” Mr D’Sylva said.
It is expected that the compensation negotiation process will take about 12 months before project approvals are expected to be complete, which gives landholders time to seek their own advice.
AusNet has been liaising with landholders and accessed approximately 450 parcels of land over the last two years to undertake field surveys and investigations to inform the Environment Effects Statement, project design and construction planning.
Building the WRL is estimated to generate around 650 full time construction jobs, with more expected at the height of construction. A further 1,100 jobs are forecast to be created as a result of building the transmission line.
It’s estimated that around 6,500 jobs may be generated in the Western Victoria Renewable Energy Zone over the next 15 years, as a direct result of investment in transmission in Western Victoria.
More information about compensation can be found in the Landholder Guide on the WRL website.
AusNet’s purpose is to connect communities with energy and accelerate a sustainable future. AusNet is the largest diversified energy network business in Victoria and owns and operates over $12 billion of regulated and contracted assets. It owns and operates three core regulated networks: electricity distribution, gas distribution and the state-wide electricity transmission network, as well as a significant portfolio of contracted energy infrastructure. It also owns and operates energy and technical services businesses (which trade under the name “Mondo”). AusNet engages over 1,300 employees to service over 1.5 million customers.