The Essential Services Commission (ESC) are developing a Statement of Expectations in relation to how transmission companies access land.
Landowners, parties with interest in land, and electricity transmission companies are critical partners in the delivery of major energy projects and the provision of essential services. This Statement of Expectations will seek to achieve a balance between the statutory right to access private lands and the rights of those affected by that exercise of that power.
This statement of expectations does not relate to decisions regarding the route of transmission projects or the decisions about whether to proceed with these projects.
It is proposed the statement will comprise of a set of principles outlining how electricity transmission companies should exercise their powers according to section 93 of the Electricity Industry Act 2000 to access land.
The ESC are interested in hearing from all interested persons. Particularly, persons who may have had their land accessed for transmission line projects or related works. The ESC are interested in hearing about what has worked well, and what things need to improve to ensure access is carried out in a transparent and respectful way.
Currently, land access can be done through a voluntary agreement between a transmission company and a landowner. If a voluntary arrangement cannot be reached, transmission companies have powers under section 93 of the Electricity Industry Act to access land compulsorily.
This statement of expectations will ensure that land access is done in a fair and transparent way which takes into account the interests of landowners.
View the draft statement of expectations, download the response template and have your say. Visit the Engage Victoria page to submit your feedback on this work before 19 April 2022
Energy Grid Alliance Submission
Through recent and somewhat disturbing experiences, working with communities impacted by the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project (WVTNP), it has become abundantly clear there is a lack of meaningful process, lack of trust, lack of understanding, lack of communication, lack of social licence and above all, a severe lack of accountability when it comes to exercising land access powers under section 93 of the Electricity Industry Act.
Energy Grid Alliance believe that setting clear expectations of Victorian electricity transmission licence holders is an important first step. It is important however to recognise that this statement of expectations only applies to transmission companies at this time, though a future code of practice may have a broader scope. This statement of expectations is an interim measure, pending the commission’s future development of a Code of Practice under Part 6 of the Essential Services Commission Act 2001 in relation to land access.
Energy Grid Alliance believe that without parallel development of a Code of Practice, the Statement of Expectations represents a guideline only that does not have to be adhered to. The Code of Practice referenced and accountability mechanisms, to ensure electricity transmission companies are fulfilling these expectations, do not yet exist.
The concern is that without real accountability, electricity transmission companies will simply continue to access land as they are now.
A Code of Practice and accountability mechanisms are urgently needed to ensure electricity transmission companies are fulfilling their obligations. Energy Grid Alliance has asked that all land access relating to the WVTNP be put on hold by the ESC until access, reporting and accountability mechanisms have been put in place.
Energy Grid Alliance has recently made a submission to the consultation process, detailing concerns and highlighting areas where land access protocols can be improved.
To make it easier to make your own submission and comment on the draft Statement of Expectations, the ESC have provided a downloadable template. This is in Word format so you can simply download it and add your comments in the column to the right of each point.