Western Australia Premier, Roger Cook, and Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

The Western Australian and Federal Governments have signed an agreement granting the state $3 billion to fund new builds and major upgrades to its electricity grids.

The Commonwealth-Western Australia Rewiring the Nation deal will bolster Western Australia’s energy security by expanding and modernising electricity grids in Perth, the South West, as well as in the North West Pilbara region.

The Federal Government is expected to provide up to $3 billion through concessional loans and equity investments to Western Australia through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to new builds and major upgrades to transmission in the state’s South West Interconnected System (SWIS) and the North West Interconnected System (NWIS).

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said that the newly formed agreement will benefit the state’s future energy needs.

“We are joining forces with the Cook Government on a $3 billion landmark deal to deliver affordable cleaner energy to West Australians.

“Rewiring the Nation will help future-proof WA’s energy supply, while also creating new jobs in energy, mining and manufacturing.

“On the weekend I visited Karratha and saw firsthand the economic power of the Pilbara – as the global economy decarbonises we need to provide opportunities for regions like the Pilbara to be powered by as much renewable energy as possible,” Mr Albanese said. 

State Minister for Energy, Bill Johnston, said that the agreement is crucial to decarbonisation and thanked those who have contributed to funding the project.

“The agreement has been informed by Western Australia Government modelling, specifically from the South West Interconnected System Demand Assessment and the Pilbara Industry Roundtable process, and I thank private industry for their commitment to undertake a crucial role in decarbonisation.

“It is expected the private sector will largely fund the cost of renewable energy generation and transmission infrastructure in the Pilbara, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars over the coming decades,” Mr Johnston said.

“The low-cost finance program will help unlock this significant investment.

“Keeping Western Power in public hands has allowed the State Government to support this significant program of works by funding transmission infrastructure in the SWIS – where we have already funded $126 million in the recent Budget to kickstart early network planning.”

Priority projects in these grids were identified through the state’s demand assessment processes, with recent Australian Energy Market Operator modelling supporting the need for sustained investment in transmission infrastructure in the SWIS.

Western Australia Premier, Roger Cook, said that the project will not only develop sustainable energy practices throughout the state, but will also provide local communities with job opportunities whilst the project is under construction. 

“In WA, we are delivering on our sensible and achievable plan to decarbonise our existing industries and create new clean energy industries as we transition to net zero, unlocking new projects while supporting new and ongoing local jobs.

“This significant package means we can accelerate the development of key energy transmission projects to facilitate decarbonisation, while also building on my government’s climate action plan and initiatives already underway towards more secure, cleaner, reliable and affordable energy supplies,” Mr Roger said. 

An investment and project of this scale is expected to support around 1,800 construction jobs and unlock future projects across Western Australia, helping to empower regional communities.

The SWIS is the state’s main electricity network and serves more than 1.1 million residential and business customers in Perth and across the South West. It starts north in Kalbarri, runs through Perth down to Albany in the south and extends to Kalgoorlie in the east.

This newly formed agreement will finance priority projects across the SWIS to increase the supply of renewable energy and connect it into the grid by plugging in renewable generation hubs.

Initial modelling of the project suggests that in 20 years’ time, the SWIS grid will need to have up to five times more electricity than is available today as new industrial users connect to the grid.

The investment in new energy grid projects will ensure the SWIS remains fit-for-purpose and ensure cleaner, affordable and more reliable energy for West Australians into the future.

The Pilbara’s NWIS consists of largely standalone networks owned by private companies and public entities with only a very small proportion (less than two per cent) of electricity generated from renewables.

This agreement will support more renewable energy in the NWIS, while ensuring existing infrastructure upgrades are coordinated between industries and governments.

The Rewiring the Nation deal will help to build on the momentum of the Pilbara Industry Roundtable, which is a significant Western Australia Government-led initiative, which included some of the state’s major resources companies.

The Rewiring the Nation deal is set to unlock economic development and speed up decarbonisation by bringing on more renewable energy and sharing it more efficiently across different users.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said that the Rewiring the Nation Deal will help reduce the amount of pressure on energy bills to Western Australian residents. 

“This announcement is about driving cheaper, more reliable energy in WA and setting the state up for years to come,” Mr Bowen said.

“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy and the Rewiring the Nation deal will put downward pressure on electricity bills for WA consumers in the years ahead.

“The Australian and West Australian Governments are enabling WA to capitalise on the renewable energy transformation and make the most of the incredible jobs opportunity that comes with it.”

Featured image: Western Australia Premier, Roger Cook, and Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

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