Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio demonstrated a shocking lack of knowledge about key projects that form part of the government’s renewal energy agenda today in the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings.
Minister D’Ambrosio was unable to ‘separate out’ where upgrades were needed, or which energy generation projects were unable to be connected to the grid due to a lack of adequate transmission infrastructure.
With only 51 out of 137 announced renewable energy projects connected to the grid, the chronic underinvestment in Victoria’s transmission infrastructure has meant only 2,896 MW, or less than a sixth of the over 12,000 MW of renewables announced, is actually reaching the parts of the state where that energy is needed.
Asked what transmission lines were slated for an upgrade, the Minister said she had no current details, was taking advice and, bizarrely, stated “some projects can’t be connected due to connections.”
When asked specifically about the troubled Western Victoria Transmission Project, the Minister advised the Committee that the project would be completed by 2025, but was unable to inform the Committee what renewable energy generators would be sidelined until the Project was completed, saying the question “can’t be answered.”
With the $370 million, energy consumer funded project being overseen by the Minister, there is a community expectation that she’d have some basic knowledge of the effects and benefits of this massive investment.
Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) project budget, designed to reduce bushfires has had its budget blown from $150 million to $1 billion.
This eye-watering blowout of $850 million of taxpayers’ money seems of very little concern to the Minister, who characterised the massively increased cost as “slight additional increases.”
This comes on top of the Minister’s previous statement that concerns about the granting of $500,000 to a recycling business that subsequently went into administration was “sweating the small stuff.”
Quotes attributable to the Hon. Ryan Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and Renewables:
“The Energy Minister couldn’t tell a Parliamentary Committee the most basic details of what transmission network upgrades she was undertaking.
“She should hang her head in shame for not understanding either the details of her portfolio, or the importance of proper scrutiny in using tax-payers’ hard-earned money.
“It’s an insult to Victorians that millions of dollars in budgeted over-runs is ‘absolutely value for money’ according to this out of touch Energy Minister.
“Victorians would have difficulty in deciding what to be more concerned about – the Minister’s lack of knowledge about major generation and transmission projects under her oversight, or her complete disregard of the spending of Victorians’ money.”