The Federal Government will fast-track a project to power Victoria and NSW with renewable energy produced in Tasmania.
The Marinus Link project will lay two undersea transmission cables from Tasmania to Victoria with funding from the government’s Rewiring the Nation plan.
The Victoria-NSW interconnector will then ensure energy can flow to NSW.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasised the importance of progressing renewable energy targets as the threat of climate change is felt first-hand on the flood-ravaged east coast.
“We need to act on climate change,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Hobart after a day of visiting flood-affected communities.
“We need to make sure that we have clean, cheap energy and Tasmania of course has led the nation in renewable energy.”
The project will cut at least 140 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
Mr Albanese said once completed, the project will help to reduce Tasmanian residents’ power bills, with an estimated $4.5bn in positive net market benefits for consumers.
“Tasmanians will see downward pressure on electricity prices, they will pay less for their power bills as a result of Marinus Link,” he said.
It will create an estimated 2800 construction jobs across both states and another 670 direct jobs in Tasmania.
Mr Albanese also signalled an additional 465,000 fee-free TAFE places will be made available in the upcoming budget, with a portion of places earmarked for training workers for such projects.
The government said it is the largest investment in energy by a Commonwealth government in any single announcement since the Snowy Mountain scheme.
“Renewable energy is absolutely 100 per cent in Tasmania’s DNA,” Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said.
The project will be crucial to delivering Tasmania’s 200 per cent renewable energy target by supercharging Hydro Tasmania while unlocking new investment in green hydrogen and offshore wind.
Eighty per cent of the cost will be funded through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the remaining 20 per cent will be an equity investment shared equally between the Commonwealth and two states.
It will be funded in part by $2.5bn in concessional loans provided by the Commonwealth and will be co-owned alongside the Tasmanian and Victorian state governments.
Up to $1bn of low-cost debt will fund the Battery of the Nation projects, including the Tarraleah Power Station redevelopment and Lake Cethana Pumped Hydro.
Low-cost debt will also be used to build the North West Transmission Developments, linking the townships of Cressy, Burnie, Sheffield, Staverton and Hampshire to increase the capacity of the network.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen conceded the local community may not be in full support of the project, but that the government still had work to do.
“Let’s be frank, it does have its issues in terms of community support,” Mr Bowen told reporters.
“These are big projects which need careful management and conservation and respect shown to communities.”
Mr Bowen confirmed the project will be marked as nationally significant infrastructure – allowing it to be further fast-tracked through approvals.
Mr Albanese said the project was only made possible because of the government’s Rewiring the Nation program which it took to the election.