Meet the Aussie Fighters Defying Massive Inexperienced • Watt With It?

Essay by Eric Worrall

When Net Zero-obsessed Australian federal and state governments announced large-scale grid expansions to power renewable energy plants, they forgot to speak to landowners.

Last Friday I attended a meeting at Widgee Bushman’s Bar for people concerned about the expansion of the green web. Some prominent politicians spoke at the event. Federal Senator Malcolm Roberts and Congressman Colin Boyce both expressed concern about the way landowners are being treated.

Senator Malcolm Roberts speaks at Widgee

The opposition to the expansion of Australia’s green electricity grid is largely ignored by the mainstream media. With a few honorable exceptions, the concerns of rural folk, who fear their land value and amenities will be ruined by forced purchases to service Big Green’s profits, are largely ignored.

But as you can see from the size of the rally in the small rural town of Widgee, this is an issue dear to the hearts of country folk.

Panoramic View – Scroll left and right to view the entire scene

The Widgee Bushman’s Bar parking lot was packed, the parking lot attendants had taken their last two spots when I got there.

Speaking to Nolene of Kilkivan Action Group, the biggest issue with the power line extension project so far has been the perception of very poor or incomplete communication. People are concerned about the impact on their country, and there are also fears that harsh bargaining practices could divide communities.

There are also concerns that some information is difficult to access, despite claims to the contrary. For example, Powerlink has assured residents that the residents’ power lines are AS7000 standard, but to obtain a copy of the AS7000 residents must pay SAI Global $313.30.

The following is part of an email provided to me by the Kilkivan Action Group;

Dear members of the Kilkivan Action Group,

Thank you for your follow-up question on electric and magnetic fields (EMF) related to the Borumba Pumped Hydro Project transmission links.

Audible noise from transmission lines occurs mainly during inclement weather. Water droplets accumulating on the energized surface of transmission line wires (referred to as conductors) and associated transmission line hardware create corona discharges based on the electrical potential on the surface defined by the surface tension gradient (SVG). The design scenarios for transmission lines that generate audible noise consider the following situations:

  1. Nice weather – dry conditions where the recommended application of SVG of 16kV/cm or less means that the line generally operates below the corona inception thresholds (see attached excerpt from AS7000).
  2. Bad weather – high humidity, fog and light rain – causes droplets to form on the conductor when the current load on the line is low and the heat in the conductor is insufficient to vaporize the droplets from the conductor surface. Water droplets change the circular shape of the conductor and it is no longer circular. The higher the SVG, the higher the corona bursts that occur at droplet locations. AS7000 provides guidance on SVG so an appropriate benchmark can be applied to optimize ladder size (cost) Vs. probable audible noise.
  3. Bad weather – heavy rain – Saturated conductors that do not evaporate quickly due to rain rate and drop formation. Rain conditions generally set design limits for audible noise, but these are offset by the fact that background noise levels are also high from rain activity itself.

To date, Powerlink has failed to provide a free copy of the full AS7000 standard to at least some groups potentially affected by the proposed power lines. $313.30 doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when each group has to pay $313.30 for this controlled document, which contains key answers about the safety implications of the new power lines, plus additional fees for paper hunting other controlled Documents it is not the case, it takes a long time to pay significant sums of money just to get information which I think should be freely available to concerned landowners.

Powerlink offered in the email above to provide a domain expert to discuss the standard with the Kilkivan Action Group, but this is not the same as having a copy of the actual document.

With this apparent difficulty in obtaining critical information and perceived poor communication, it is no wonder that affected landowners feel they have unanswered concerns about potential health impacts, fire risks and impacts on property value and the health of the animals on their farms , and that their concerns are not adequately addressed.

There are also allegations that the energy companies may have engaged in astroturfing – by assembling unrepresentative “advisory” groups and claiming they reached a joint agreement based on discussions with these handpicked groups. Obviously, this can only be due to the fact that they have not reached important groups of people with what I consider to be insufficient counseling efforts.

Biosecurity during construction and maintenance is also an issue I spoke to. Australia has serious problems controlling some weeds and pests as farmers employ strict biosecurity practices to protect their properties. According to the rural community I spoke to, there are already shortages of key biocontrol chemicals, so the implications of all this construction and access by people who may not be fully aware of the required biosecurity procedures is also a major concern .

The impact on roads was also addressed. A few weeks ago I posted a video showing the poor condition of the poorly maintained roads in this part of Australia. Imagine the state they will be in after heavy construction trucks have used them to power a major power grid extension.

AEMO advises energy companies to obtain a “social license” for their projects. I think given the level of hardship the rural population I spoke to are currently experiencing, and the alleged communications failures, it’s fair to say that the energy companies are far from having that vital “social license” for many potentially affected rural areas to get owners.

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