Featured image: Garraway Group on site in 2022. Courtesy of Transgrid.

Construction of the western alignment of EnergyConnect has delivered a total investment of $125 million across more than 180 local and First Nations businesses across the Riverina, Murray and Sunraysia regions.

Transgrid and its construction partner, Elecnor Australia, are building the 700km New South Wales section of the project from the energy hub of Wagga Wagga to the South Australian border, with a connection to Red Cliffs in Victoria.

Construction began in 2022 and work between Buronga and the South Australian border is now well advanced.

EnergyConnect is designed to enable the sharing of electricity between New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria for the first time, integrate cheaper and cleaner renewable energy into the grid, and help Australia achieve emissions reduction targets.

Transgrid Executive General Manager of Major Projects, Gordon Taylor, said, “Transgrid is delivering the critical infrastructure and priority projects identified by the Federal and New South Wales Governments to make Australia’s clean energy transition possible.

“We are committed to maximising the positive social and economic benefits of these projects for communities by supporting local businesses to create jobs and economic growth.

“Through EnergyConnect we have so far invested more than $125 million with more than 180 local and First Nations businesses across the Riverina, Murray and Sunraysia regions.

“The bulk of local spending to date has been centred in Sunraysia, with $59 million invested with 65 local suppliers in Mildura and another $12 million with 20 businesses in the Wentworth Shire.

“That is a direct investment of more than $71 million flowing into the pockets of local suppliers and businesses across the Sunraysia, which is money that stays in the community and supports the local economy,” Mr Taylor said.

EnergyConnect is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs, most in regional New South Wales, and contribute $4 billion in net economic benefits.

Elecnor Australia Project Director, Felipe Delgado Davara, said, “We’re committed to supporting regional businesses by creating new skills opportunities for suppliers and we continue to invest in communities through buying locally and hiring regional workers.

“We are also significantly investing millions in the Legacy 100 program to train new transmission line workers from across regional Australia. There is no greater legacy than improving the lives of people with new skills that will last many generations,” Mr Davara said.

The project includes a 16ha substation at Buronga which will be the main hub for the connection between New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria and will be one of the largest and most complex in the Southern Hemisphere.

One of the local delivery partners working on the project is the Garraway Group, based in Mildura, which was founded in Sunraysia more than 90 years ago.

The Garraway Group carried out earthworks including site clearing and installation of the access points into the substation and site amenities.

Garraway Group Managing Director, Russell Garraway, said, “Our business has enjoyed working with Transgrid and Elecnor Australia and we’re proud of the work that’s been achieved on this project.

“We’ve been part of the Sunraysia community for decades and by working on EnergyConnect, we have been able to grow our team and in particular our First Nations workforce and we’re immensely proud of that,” Mr Garraway said.

Another local supplier was Mawsons Concrete, which carried out major pours for the foundations for towers and the Buronga substation.

Mawsons Western Concrete Operations Manager, Gary Harvey, said, “Working on such a big project as EnergyConnect has been a real feather in our cap.

“We’ve been involved in complex logistical pours, supplying concrete in all weather and temperatures, and using dozens of concrete trucks in overnight operations. The logistics of these pours has been demanding and our team has gained valuable skills and experience.

“Working on EnergyConnect has been deeply rewarding for our team and we’d like to thank Transgrid and Elecnor Australia for the opportunity to be involved and for investing in both our company and the community,” Mr Harvey said.

Forster’s Bulpunga Enterprises Pty Ltd, based in Wentworth, provided transport, logistics and plant hire services to the project.

Bulpunga Enterprises Owner, Stuart Forster, said, “It’s been a pleasure working on EnergyConnect and helping the team at Buronga to source any equipment that they have needed.

“We’re a strong local company and the investment in our company through EnergyConnect has made a big difference to our operations. It’s been really encouraging to see big companies like Transgrid and Elecnor Australia believing in us and giving us the opportunity to work on a project of such national importance.”

Business benefits from EnergyConnect are now in focus for the Riverina as well as construction moves east.

As work ramps up between Wagga Wagga and Buronga, Transgrid and Elecnor Australia said they remain committed to continuing to buy locally where possible.

For more information about EnergyConnect visit: www.transgrid.com.au/energyconnect 

Featured image: Garraway Group on site in 2022. Courtesy of Transgrid.

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