Opening up western Victoria's potential to become an electricity hub took another step this week, with the market operator releasing a report that could lead to hundreds of new jobs and cheaper power.
The Australian Energy Market Operator's project assessment conclusions report details the recommendations for the next stages of infrastructure in the area - that means new powerlines, terminals, and upgrades across the western region.
All that new gear will make it easier to get the electricity generated by the renewables boom - the dozens of wind farms and large-scale solar projects - to access the network.
Right now, there are fears the network will not be able to keep up, which is why AEMO has looked into new transmission lines linking the grid.
The latest phase has been about establishing which plan will create the best return on investment - it was determined an investment estimated at $370 million, for a new terminal station north of Ballarat and high-voltage lines from Bulgana and Sydenham, will result in a total return of $670 million in market benefits.
AEMO managing director and chief executive Audrey Zibelman said in a statement this investment will deliver an increase in benefits to both energy consumers and energy producers, through significant reductions in the capital cost and dispatch cost of generation over the longer term.
"Under this proposal, for every dollar invested in the western Victorian transmission network, the project is expected to deliver almost double that in benefits," she said.
"This investment will future-orient Victoria's power system capabilities and supply availability, and help achieve a lowest cost portfolio of resources and strategic transmission development to meet consumer needs today, and into the future."
The final components are expected to be in place by 2025.
Grampians New Energy Taskforce chairman Stuart Benjamin said the result of having a more distributed network could unlock billions in private investment.
"On a weekly basis, we've been meeting with AEMO as they work out their options, and trying to end up with the best solution for the Grampians," he said.
"Our goal is to not only create a more diverse supply of energy, but also reduce electricity costs for consumers, and create new jobs in the renewable sector."
He's previously described it as a 'new gold rush' for the region, and he expects other enterprises will look to take up a similar model to a farm in Bulgana, near Stawell, which will feature greenhouses directly connected to renewable power.
"They've only located their business there because of the grid connection and supply of energy," he said.
"That one project will generate up to 400 jobs in its first stage, and all of them are being created because of renewable energy."
There's a lot of potential across the region, he added.
"We're transitioning from a grid that has always flowed out from Gippsland, to a much more web network of distribution," he said.
"We've got the ability to not only secure our own energy supply as the mix changes over the next 30 years, but also supply the entire state, but also the entire eastern seaboard of Australia."
All this infrastructure, including the turbines and power lines, will make some people uncomfortable, he said, but he said AEMO, and whoever won the tender, would work with communities first.
"This is a major change, and this is major infrastructure, and there will be some negatives, but it is very much a greater good scenario," he said.
"(Turbines) are significant pieces of infrastructure, there is a visual impact that is significant, but unfortunately that's one of the things we need to become more comfortable with if we want to move away from pushing carbon into the atmosphere."
On the ground, putting up hundreds of wind turbines doesn't happen overnight.
There'll be more than a hundred turbines spinning at the Stockyard Hill project between Beaufort and Skipton, and one landholder, Alan Pitcher, said he was quite happy to see things developing.
Far from being the "dark satanic mills of the modern era", as one former politician described them last week, his sheep don't really seem to mind them.
He said he was impressed at projects overseas, and Australia was lagging behind on renewables - an industry the country could be leading the world in.
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"I've been watching them getting built - the cranes are amazing, they're lifting about a hundred tonnes into the air," he said enthusiastically.
"They're just magic."
The next step for the network transmission will be finalising the design and locations - AEMO will put the project out to tender and hopes to have an update on the process by the end of the year.
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