The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) received a notification from Wunelli Pty Ltd. (Wunelli) disputing conclusions made in TransGrid’s Project Assessment Conclusions Report (PACR) for the ‘Reinforcing the NSW Southern Shared Network’ (Humelink) regulatory investment test for transmission (RIT-T).
Wunelli raised the dispute on 16 August 2021 under clause 5.16B of the National Electricity Rules (NER) on the grounds that it believes the Humelink RIT-T PACR fails to identify and consider all credible options to address the network need. In particular, Wunelli outlines that:
- there are other distinct configurations of the preferred option, each having materially different route lengths, geographic or environmental risks, construction costs and network benefits, and also differing in their relationship to existing assets;
- Transgrid has provided insufficient transparency about the double circuit configuration of the preferred option.
The RIT–T is a cost‒benefit analysis that transmission businesses apply before making network investments in excess of $6 million. The purpose of the RIT–T is to identify the network or non-network investment option with the highest net economic benefits across the National Electricity Market. This promotes efficient investment decisions and helps ensure that consumers pay no more than necessary for electricity network infrastructure.
Under the dispute resolution framework set out in the NER, disputes can be raised within 30 days of the project proponent publishing the PACR. This was the only dispute raised for the Humelink RIT-T PACR during the 30-day period, which ended on 30 August 2021.
The AER now has 40 calendar days to make a decision on the dispute. The AER may extend this timeframe to up to 100 calendar days.
The AER’s role in the dispute resolution process is to assess the transmission business’s compliance with the RIT‒T and NER. Where instances of non-compliance are identified, the AER may, as part of its determination, direct the network business to amend its final PACR to ensure the RIT-T is applied in accordance with the requirements of the NER.
The AER is currently assessing the dispute and aims to make a decision within the statutory timeframes.