Feb 02
Faces of the future

Kiarra Ruttley, First Year Electrical Apprentice, says some people expressed shock when she resigned from her café job to become an electrician. One response was, ‘I wouldn’t have picked a girl to do that’. Far from balking, Kiarra tells people, ‘The workforce is trying to move towards creating a workplace reflective of the Australian population. Why not put yourself out there and defy the odds?’

The odds are certainly ripe to be balanced. Less than two per cent of electro-technology trade workers in NSW are female and less than a quarter of Australians working in utilities are female. 

Encouragingly, there are positive numbers too. Kiarra joins a majority-female group in the 2018 apprentice intake at TransGrid. 

 “When I got the apprenticeship at TransGrid, my dad and uncle were really happy. Dad had been giving me job applications left, right and centre for a whole heap of trades,” says Kiarra. 

“For me, the idea of going to university was really ‘iffy’. I deferred my uni offer to see if I could pick up a full-time job. When I left school I didn’t know which path to take, but I did want a maths-based job. 

Hiring the best apprentices is vital for Colin Mayer, TransGrid Manager Field Resources.

“Gender certainly doesn’t influence how we assess the applicants. A willingness to learn, work hard, and respect safety in the workplace is what we look for in apprentices,” says Colin.

 “We focus on creating an inclusive workplace that leverages diversity in its people to do great work.”
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Apprentices: Jessica Bright; Ineke Johnston; and Kiarra Ruttley.
 
Ineke Johnston was 15 when she first considered a trade. Initially talked out of pursuing a ‘boys’ job’, it took a stint at uni to put Ineke on the path to securing her place in the apprentice program. 

“I’d rather be out there working with my hands, learning to put my theoretical knowledge into practice,” says Ineke.

Fellow apprentice, Jessica Bright, was also on a university path before joining the TransGrid apprentice program. 

“I was about 18 months into a psychology degree, but it just it wasn’t my learning style. I went back home and got all my facts together. I asked myself, ‘What am I good at? What are my strengths?’,” says Jessica.

“I’ve always been hands-on. I’ve always liked riding motorbikes and fixing things with Dad. I’d always watch him working on things around the house. No one was really surprised when I took this path.”

“My family and friends are really proud, because for me this is my career start.”

"Ineke’s advice to girls considering a technical apprenticeship? 

“Definitely do it. Give it a go. Know that you’ve worked hard to get where you already are.”

Joining their female colleagues in the TransGrid apprenticeship program are Brian Chapman and Thomas Lane. We wish the apprentices every success as they progress through the program. 

2019 Apprentice intake 

Applications for the 2019 apprentice intake open in May 2018. For information about the program, visit the Apprenticeships page of the TransGrid website. 
Dec 13
60 Minutes puts spotlight on Australian energy system

​TransGrid CEO, Paul Italiano recently spoke to 60 Minutes about challenges and opportunities in Australia’s energy system. Also featured on the program were Tesla founder, Elon Musk and Minister for the Environment and Energy, The Hon. Josh Frydenberg. 

Read on for a taste of the Paul’s comments from the segment. 

Renewables are future-forward
“I do believe in renewables and we at TransGrid believe in renewables. The climate science, we think, is undeniable. We believe there is a global movement that is pushing towards a reduction in carbon emissions. That’s reflected in agreements like the Paris treaty which Australia is signed up for. We’re seeing in the global capital market a preference for investing in greener technologies.

We think there is an overwhelming momentum towards a lower carbon economy in the future, and renewable are a critical part of that.”

Our nation’s abundant renewable energy resources could be world-leading  
The amount of sun, wind and wave energy that we [Australians] have available to us is the envy of the world. If we properly configured our power system we could have a substantially greater amount of renewable energy in it. In fact, we could lead the world in renewable energy engineering.

View the full episode footage on the 60 Minutes website (Channel 9 account required).  
Dec 13
Workplace safety shines in apprentice awards

​A commitment to workplace safety came to the fore last week when TransGrid apprentices at NSW TAFE Wagga Wagga were selected for all three categories of the Safety Award for Apprentices, sponsored by Origin Energy. 

The award recognises apprentices who always remain safety conscious, mentor others, apply safety principals, and perform beyond that of the average apprentice. All three winners are in the top 5% of their respective classes.

Lyle Salmon, teacher of electrical trades at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga identifies that a strong grounding in safety makes the TransGrid winners stand out. 

 “TransGrid’s training and attention to safety in daily work is evident in the performance of the three apprentices from TransGrid who received the awards,” said Lyle. 

The winners 
  • Third year apprentice -  Jake Clayton
  • Second year apprentice – James Waddell
  • First year apprentice – Paul Goulding 
Second Year Apprentice Electrical Fitter, James Wadell, was chosen for the award from a cohort of over 30 apprentices. 

Being in a workplace that takes safety seriously is one of the factors that James believes contributed to winning the award. 

“The safety standards at TransGrid are above any workplace I’ve experienced. For every job, there’s a safe work method statement which covers all the major risks. On top of that, a pre-work risk assessment goes into more detail about the work at hand,” said James. 

Paul Goulding is a First Year Apprentice Electrical Fitter at TransGrid, who’s thrown himself wholeheartedly in into Certificate III in Electronic Technology and work at TransGrid. When asked to identify the best thing about the certification Paul responded, “There’s no one standout, I like the whole thing!” 

“Before getting to work each day, we identify possible safety issues and measures to prevent an incident from occurring.  I feel comfortable that that if we follow procedure, we’ll go home safely at the end of the day. Having said that, if something doesn’t seem right we stop, and see what we can do to stop it being a hazard.”

“It’s good that there’s an award to recognise safety in the electrical field. I’m quite proud to have received the award.” 
Dec 13
Solar future

​Australia’s energy sector is under pressure to deliver energy that’s affordable, reliable and sustainable. It’s hard to turn on your TV or look at the newspaper without seeing the latest story on the challenges to facing the nation’s energy landscape. 

In NSW the forecast 2022 closure of AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power station represents a major withdrawal of generation capacity. In addition, it signals another step down for the availability of thermal generation across the NEM.
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The Australian Energy Council’s 2017 forecast for thermal generation across the NEM illustrates the progressive removal of thermal generation underway in Australia. With no new coal fired power plants currently commissioned, and the economic viability of such plants looking increasingly unlikely, Australia is looking to options such as solar generation  to revolutionise the way that we power our nation. 

Large scale solar generation is growing in Australia and around the world, and TransGrid is working to increase the levels of solar generated electricity passing through its network. Solar technology is increasing at a rapid pace, offering consistent imporvements in the scale of generation and the output per pannel, demonstrating the value of renewable generation as Australia transitions away from its traditional coal base. The challenge however, is locating the most optimal solar resources within the country, establishing the generation capacity, and ensuring that the electricity can be passed through to consumers at the lowest possible cost. Transmission will play a key role the future development of solar generation.

Dr Alan Finkel’s Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market recommends that transmission businesses work with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to plan how the grid can develop and connect renewable energy zones across the National Electricity Market (NEM). Vitally, the Review also estimates that renewable energy will be the most cost-effective way to meet our energy needs. An integrated grid plan would allow central planning of transmission networks to provide the optimal means of ‘opening up’ renewable generation resources and then transporting the generated electricity efficiently into cities and towns at an unprecedented level. 

When it comes to looking at where these large scale renewable zones might exist, and particularly large scale solar generation, it is important to ensure that three key criteria are met:

  1. The area is within connection distance to transmission assets
    This will ensure that the energy can be transported into the network at lowest cost possible.
  2. There is compatible land available
    Particularly with solar generation, the most optimal land is large flat and open areas with no development. As can be imagined, areas like this are usually a very long way away from anything else.
  3. Quality resource
    For large scale solar generation, the optimal locations have little cloud or shadow from surrounding terrain.
TransGrid has been researching the viability of varying locations within NSW, and has identified upwards of 20,000 MW of solar resource that could be made accessible through modifications to the existing transmission network.


Next steps

Australia will need to transition away from its dependence on thermal generation, if for no other reason than our coal plants are aging, and no one is building anything new. The development of large scale renewable zones, and particularly harnessing the massive solar resources available in Australia provide an opportunity to a lower cost, and low carbon generation format on which Australia can continue to grow. The accessing of these areas and the ‘unlocking’ of the recourses will take a rethinking of the way that current transmission networks in the NEM are configured, but this is certainly not the first time that this has happened: just think – no body build transmission lines in the La Trobe and hunter Valley’s because there was a power station there. 

TransGrid has already begun the task of examining the most effective ways to develop large scale renewable generation zones, along with AEMO and with actualisation of Finkel’s recommendation for an integrated grid plan, the future of renewable generation is looking bright.
Dec 13
Powering Sydney's Future update - December 2017

​We have recently been in discussions with the Department of Education to start building relationships with schools along the preferred route. We also met with future project neighbours, Sydney Metro, to discuss the St Peters section of the preferred route.

December saw the release of the Project Assessment Conclusion Report (PACR), which proposes a staged delivery of two cable circuits. The PACR is the third and final report in the Regulatory Investment Test – Transmission (RIT-T). 

Looking toward 2018, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared for the project. A program of stakeholder and community engagement will play an important part in the development of the EIS, before public exhibition in late 2018.

To find out more about Powering Sydney's Future, visit our consultations page to view a project video and the preferred route. 
Dec 12
Managing network safety - How TransGrid keeps you safe

​TransGrid’s commitment is to deliver value to the community through investment in a safe, secure network enabling a stable market at the lowest cost to our customers. Our transmission network presents many safety hazards to be managed over the life of each asset and we have zero risk appetite for any safety incident.

TransGrid is nearing the end of a significant review of our total network safety risks. This includes:
  • Risk to members of the public from our assets being there
  • Risks to our workers through contact with electricity or asset failure
  • The safety impacts of starting a bushfire
  • The safety risk to the community should our network not be able to supply energy
  • Damage to property and the environment more broadly.
TransGrid has applied an industry specific methodology, known as a Formal Safety Assessment to:
  • Identify all credible hazards
  • Evaluate the residual risk
  • Identify controls in place
  • Identify additional controls which may 
  • Assess that the resulting risk to each of the safety outcomes above is acceptable. 
Whether we are electricity users, generators, business or industry groups we are all potentially impacted by the safety of the network, so input from any of our stakeholders is most welcome. 

Should have you have a further interest or would like to make a contribution to this process, please email AssetPerformance.Documents@transgrid.com.au
Dec 12
White Ribbon Workplace accreditation is our social and moral obligation

​TransGrid is proud to be accredited by White Ribbon, the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls. There are many worthy causes in the community, but there is no more important cause than how we treat one another. 

Sadly, today in Australia, a society where all women can live in safety is not the social ‘norm’. TransGrid is committed to doing our bit to achieve that important social change. As the nation’s largest transmission network, and the platform that connects the national electricity system, we can also play a leadership role - not just in our industry but more broadly in our community.  For this reason, it was important that TransGrid became a White Ribbon Accredited workplace. Leaders and ambassador champion White Ribbon

Leaders and survivors gather at Canberra Parliament House during White Ribbon Australia’s 16 Days of Activism. 
Top left: Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull addresses guests. Bottom Left: TransGrid CEO Paul Italiano speaks about TransGrid's White Ribbon Workplace accreditation. Right: White Ribbon Australia Director, Dan Gregory; White Ribbon Australia CEO, Libby Davies; Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Bill Shorten; White Ribbon Day Ambassador, Dr Angela Jay; Deputy Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek; TransGrid CEO, Paul Italiano. 

Prior to engaging with White Ribbon Australia, TransGrid had an acute focus on gender equality and diversity in our workforce. Embracing White Ribbon’s values and approach was a “must do” next step for our organisation. Our goal was incomplete without actively demonstrating that our workplace culture is one that embodies, embraces and practices zero tolerance of violence against women. 

Undertaking the White Ribbon Accreditation program was a key part of TransGrid’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. We believe that for each employee to feel they are included and can contribute to the best of their ability, they must feel safe, supported and able to contribute at work. 

It is fair to say TransGrid has been on a journey in understanding and better supporting our employees in this regard. Presence, persistence and vigilance are the most important ingredients in effecting change.
This started with implementing a Domestic Violence leave clause in the TransGrid Employee’s Agreement, as well as the support of our Employee Assistance Program. Last year we took the important step to engage our leaders, customers and stakeholders in the role we all play in ending violence against women in our society as part of our White Ribbon Workplace accreditation process.

We are now proud to be officially recognised by White Ribbon Australia as a pioneer in contributing to national cultural change to prevent and respond to violence against women.

However, TransGrid was only the 122nd Australian organisation to achieve White Ribbon Workplace accreditation. Another 100 organisations are currently working toward accreditation.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 2.1 million registered businesses in the country. 2.5% of these businesses employ 20 or more staff. That leaves about 52,000 Australian businesses with a workplace that should be –but isn’t  – White Ribbon accredited.

While TransGrid is taking its people on the White Ribbon journey, we recognise we have a role as an ambassador to encourage other businesses to commit to this important cause.

White Ribbon Workplace accreditation is not a trophy, it is our social and moral obligation.
Oct 12
Better connected NEM regions could ease ‘energy crisis’, says TransGrid CEO

Our CEO Paul Italiano recently addressed the Australian Financial Review’s National Energy Summit, where Australia’s ‘energy crisis’ was dissected by some of the industry’s leading minds. His speech outlines the role that transmission networks can play in delivering reliable, sustainable and affordable energy in a transitioning energy system. Read on for more insights into how transmission can harness the nation’s abundant renewable resources to address energy shortages and reduce costs. 

As Australian Financial Review journalist, Jennifer Hewitt recently observed, conversation about the energy crisis solution has become about being quicker and cheaper. In other words, Australia is looking for a quick fix.

While I agree that a short-term solution to the energy challenge is imperative, it should not be at the expense of the planning required for a sustainable, affordable energy system of the future.

Artificially extending the life of an energy coal plant or curtailing gas exports is not an answer for 2022, and it is certainly not an answer for 2050.

We should be careful not to take a short-term approach to long-term investment challenges in the National Electricity Market.
There is enough time to implement and execute solutions that are in the best long-term interest of consumers. But our time is running out. 

One option available at the moment is better utilisation of the assets we already have. Leveraging the footprint of our transmission system and removing the constraints that exist in the NEM, enables more energy flow between state markets and will allow easier connection for new energy sources to enter the grid. 

NEM regions could be better connected to minimise localised energy shortages 

We tend to look upon the NEM as one big bucket, which of course is not true. 

In reality, our electricity system is comprised of as a series of energy ‘nodes’. Australia has some of the highest levels of dispatchable energy in the OECD, but electricity nodes are not well-connected, meaning that when one region is suffering a shortage, three others could be seeing a surplus. 

These constraints are – by and large – caused by the nature of the existing configuration of our transmission network. 

The limitations of the current network are a major impediment to freeing up capacity. They contribute to the erosion of reliable supply and the lessening of wholesale market competition.  

Benefits of transmission investment

It is transmission infrastructure that provides access to the economy of scale and economy of scope in our network. It provides access to the substantial capacity that is outside of the grid, and also the ability for us to dispatch the lowest cost generation. 

If our nodes were better connected we would not only have more than enough power to meet our demand, we would have excess energy available to be transported between regions and states. 

In addition, and very importantly, we would also be able to use these connections to better manage the impact that increased renewables have on the efficient running of our electricity system. 

Transmission provides reliable and low cost dispatchable generation

However, it seems that as a society we have lost our sense of electricity transmission’s value proposition in the NEM, and the social benefit of transmission to our community.

Transmission is more than moving electrons from A to B. It is a universal network asset that provides reliable and low cost dispatchable generation. 

We can retire ageing coal fired power stations and replace them with generation from other sources by using a common platform. The value proposition allows people to share capacity across the network and facilitates equal access for all. 

As a market we must keep in mind that we need to invest in maintaining and developing an integrated grid, with a common platform, accessible to everyone. 

Without one platform, the social benefits of transmission are eroded, and the potential of sharing capacity and integrating other forms of generation – including renewables – cannot be realised. 

We need to plan prudently for the energy system of the future 

The NEM will need capacity to accommodate the population growth and increasing demand that we are beginning to see. Right now, TransGrid is doing very little to build for the challenges of our network’s future.  

The City of Sydney alone is forecasting population growth of 25% over the next decade.

The Metrorail project in Sydney requires 70MW of power to run the ventilation system.

Generators of all sorts are contacting us, seeking to connect to the grid. We’re turning away more generators than we are able to connect because of the capacity constraints of the system.

So, what are we doing about it? 

Our Revised Proposal to the Revenue Determination that’s underway proposes a price reduction of 3.9 compared with the current regulatory period.

It’s also important to note that TransGrid did not appeal the decision in the last round of regulatory process. In this respect, we seek to differentiate ourselves from other networks in the Australian energy market. 

At some stage, however, a low level of investment becomes unsustainable. The current situation is concerning for the long-term, given that transmission is the low-cost and effective investment to access new generation. 

Transition to renewables

The effective management of our transition to renewables is without doubt the biggest challenge for the network. 

Much has been said about investment in renewables and the pathway to the reliable, secure, affordable and low-emission supply of electricity. 

Australia is blessed with some of the world’s best renewable energy potential. There are new technologies that allow us to manage this more effectively. 

In July this year, TransGrid connected White Rock Wind Farm, west of Glen Innes. There are two more projects in that space.  Individually, White Rock is able to supply power for 75,000 homes a year, indicating that there is space for significant renewable generation in our market.
This is one success story. Unfortunately, we have had to turn down a few others that have been trying to connect to our system. The value-add of these investments, we believe, would be substantial. 

Renewables, particularly in combination with storage capabilities, have the potential to provide a cheaper form of reliable energy than some of the traditional sources. Heavy coal ranges between $70 and $100 per megawatt. This is more than the competitive prices we’re getting for renewable generation. 

Cost-effective renewable energy – enabled by transmission – is already a reality overseas 

There are other countries and jurisdictions around the world that have been successful at integrating higher levels of renewable generation than we have. 

If you look in Texas, the cultural home of US crude oil, competitive renewable energy zones were established 10 years ago to access wind capacity.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas covers 75% of land, manages 85% of the load, involves 60,800 kilometres of transmission lines and more than 550 generation units. They propose to integrate 18.5 GW of renewable generation into their system.
  
Even whole towns such as Georgetown in Texas are supplying their electricity exclusively with renewable generation. What’s important is that the case for renewable generation in Georgetown, Texas, was not built on a renewable ideology. It was built on the basis of cost. 

Increasingly, we see that the economics of renewable generation, with the support of global investment in the technologies required to make them work, are becoming more and more important on an economic basis, rather than an ideological basis. 

Despite this, we do still hear the doomsday arguments about renewables: the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. The truth is, with the right technology and the right level of connectivity we can effectively manage the efficiency and impact that these technologies have on the system.

Scotland is another example. They built 692 km of transmission lines that have significantly increased the amount of renewable generation available. They export energy to the London market. 

As a nation we have been slow to act on our energy challenges. The Finkel Review has provided an economically rational, socially responsible path to planning and implementing a sustainable energy system for the suture. We call on government to adopt the recommendations. 

I’d like to conclude with a quote from Warren Buffet: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

If we persist in looking for solutions that provide a cheaper, quicker experience we will forego the shade that we can offer future generations. We’ve been basking in the shade of trees planted by generations of electricity engineers before us. We should make sure that we don’t hand down a poorer legacy to future generations.   

Sep 25
R U OK? How to look out for a workmate in 4 steps

At TransGrid, the safety of employees, contractors and members of the public is in our DNA. This year's R U OK Day campaign focused on staying connected and having meaningful conversations. Watch the video to find out how you can open a conversation with someone who might be struggling in just four steps. 

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For more informaton on suicide prevention, including a wide range of resources visit ruok.org.au


Sep 22
EUAA NSW Energy Forum: Taking control of your energy future

​Australia's energy sector is under pressure to deliver energy that's affordable, reliable and sustainable. Our network (and the National Electricity Market) will look very different in the future. The transmission network in Australia has been built around linking our coalfields and hydro resources to major population centres. Now, the industry is looking at developing the electricity system to enable the move to a clean energy future.

The cost of wind and solar generation is falling, and sources such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance predict that the cost of new solar will be cheaper than existing coal plants by 2032. It's a big change, but one that transmission networks can lead by acting as the platform to support a transition to a renewable energy system.

These were some of the themes addressed by TransGrid's Gerard Reiter, Executive Manager, Network Planning & Operations at the Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) NSW Energy Forum on Monday 4 September. Gerard presented in the first session of the forum, following The Hon. Don Harwin, MLC and The Hon. Adam Searle, MLC.

"TransGrid has an enormous opportunity to evolve the grid to cater to new generation types in a changing National Electricity Market", Gerard said.

"We have to think differently about the purpose and potential of transmission. And we have to work together with others in the sector, so the outcome is competitive and effective."

For information on other EUAA events including their annual conference in May 2018, visit the EUAA website.



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