Freehills wins in Victorian Supreme Court for Murraylink
A team from Freehills’ litigation practice has had an important win in the Victorian Supreme Court on behalf of its client Murraylink Transmission Company (Murraylink). According to lead partner Alan Mitchell, the win was especially significant because it overturned decisions by the national electricity regulator (NEMMCO) and National Electricity Tribunal, and was the culmination of a two-year dispute where Murraylink was opposed by two state governments, NEMMCO and rival electricity company TransGrid.
On Thursday 24 July Murraylink won its Supreme Court appeal against the split (2-1) decision of the National Electricity Tribunal (NET), which had upheld a decision by NEMMCO, conferring regulated status on TransGrid’s proposed SNI project.
TransGrid is proposing to construct an interconnector linking the transmission grids in New South Wales and South Australia. In December 2001 they obtained approval from NEMMCO for that facility to have regulated status, which meant that its construction cost would effectively be transferred to consumers.
Construction of that facility would duplicate Murraylink’s 220 MW interconnection, which has already been constructed. Now the world’s longest underground transmission line at 180 km, Murraylink connects the Victorian and South Australian electricity grids, allowing power to be traded directly between the two states.
The Murraylink interconnection sources power generated in Victoria, the Snowy Region and NSW. It can also source power generated in SA for transmission to Eastern States, and went into service in September 2002.
In late December 2001 Murraylink challenged NEMMCO’s decision in the Tribunal (NET) but failed. On 24 July 2003 the Victorian Supreme Court allowed Murraylink’s appeal and set aside the Tribunal’s decision on the basis of an error of law by the Tribunal.
‘This case involves a very complex mix of law, economics and engineering,’ said Mr Mitchell. ‘This is an important win for our client, because they believe that the duplication of Murraylink by an overhead SNI is not in the best financial or ecological interest of the nation and South Australian consumers in particular.’