Mount Barker “big winner” from AER approval of new $33 million natural gas pipeline

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The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has given its approval to a proposed extension of Australian Gas Networks’ (AGN) South Australian natural gas network to Mount Barker.

The approval, granted in late December, is for a new 40km, $33 million natural gas pipeline extending the existing natural gas network from Murray Bridge, through Monarto South and Kanmantoo, to the Mount Barker region.

Welcoming the AER final approval, AGN Chief Customer Officer, Mr Andrew Staniford, said the company was able to move ahead with finalising specific technical details and to once again engage with affected landholders along the proposed pipeline route. The AGN Board will also now be able to make its final investment decision, which, if granted, will kick off the construction of the gas pipeline late in 2019, with works continuing over the following years.

“The project will bring significant benefits, including over $60 million in economic benefits by making natural gas available to over 20,000 homes and businesses,” Mr Staniford said.

“We will ensure that the pipeline is ‘future proof’ and can carry renewable hydrogen in the future to allow a journey to zero emissions gas,” he said.

“This proposal would be our biggest single pipeline investment in South Australia in decades and will enable homes and businesses in the Mount Barker region to connect directly to the natural gas network,” he said.

It follows several other new and upgraded gas distribution projects across the State by AGN in recent years.

“Recent AGN projects already completed in South Australia include the extension of its gas network to Tanunda and McLaren Vale and significant network upgrades to support growth in the Adelaide CBD, Bowden and Murray Bridge,” he said.

Mr Staniford said plans for the new pipeline were timely, especially considering the strong population growth experienced in the Mount Barker area and forecasts for further significant growth in years to come.

“The Mount Barker region has been identified as a key part of Adelaide’s urban land supply, with population in the area predicted to grow from 33,000 to 55,000 people by the year 2036,” he said.

“We will be delighted to be able to provide homes and businesses in one of South Australia’s fastest-growing areas with the choice of a more affordable and reliable energy source and to have the ability to connect customers as the region grows into the future.”

AGN currently supplies natural gas to approximately 450,000 customers in South Australia through a distribution network of over 8,000 kilometres and achieves 95% penetration in new developments where natural gas is available. The business provides gas to around 1.3 million customers nationally.

Mr Staniford said AGN currently invests around $250 million a year in its Australian networks to reach new areas, improve supply and replace old gas mains.

“This level of investment is crucial to ensuring our customers have a sustainable and secure supply of natural gas through operations that are environmentally and socially responsible,” he said.

AGN’s $33 million natural gas pipeline to Mount Barker is planned to originate in Murray Bridge and pass the Monarto South industrial precinct and Kanmantoo.

Mr Staniford said the industrial precinct was earmarked for expansion. “The new pipeline would provide a number of large businesses with the opportunity to connect to natural gas and promote further economic development in the region”, he said.

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