The influential Clean Energy Investor Group has urged the state government not to waste time attempting to bury new clean energy transmission infrastructure.
The group, which represents institutional clean energy investors with a combined portfolio value of $24billion, will present on Monday to the second NSW parliamentary inquiry into putting new infrastructure underground.
The government convened an upper house inquiry into the proposal earlier this year. Its report concluded that putting the infrastructure underground would be too expensive.
However, criticism of the 'government-dominated' inquiry prompted Coalition, Greens and Crossbench MLCs to convene a second inquiry to re-examine the issue.
Former federal energy minister and Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor has also called for the underground option to be further investigated.
The issue could have massive implications for the roll out of new clean energy infrastructure in the Hunter and New England regions.
Clean Energy Investor Group chief executive Simon Corbell said Australia was lagging on its 82 per cent renewables target, primarily due to the slow deployment of new transmission and Renewable Energy Zone infrastructure, as well as regulatory hurdles within the sector.
At the same time, investors were increasingly drawn to significant opportunities in the United States driven by the Biden Administration's Inflation Reduction Act.
"Innovative Australian investors have the capital and the vision to ensure limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is within our grasp," he said.
"Community consultation is vital and good projects that minimise environmental impacts are entirely possible without the expense and construction time - time we don't have - for undergrounding.
"We just need state and federal governments to provide the right policy settings and we can achieve an economy which is both clean energy based and provides sustainable jobs and growth for our children's future."
The Clean Energy Investor Group's submission says the potential benefits of undergrounding transmission lines might be applicable in certain cases, particularly for short distances within visually sensitive areas. But it is typically more expensive to build and maintain than overhead transmission lines, slow to construct, and very dependent on suitable geology, topography and soil moisture.
"Meeting the requests of some landholders to underground transmission lines is expected to triple the cost and introduce considerable delays to the government's efforts aimed at addressing the impending gap in the state's power supply brought about by the retirement of end of life coal-fired power stations," the submission says.
"CEIG does not endorse the view that underground transmission lines are a universally effective solution, and the continued pursuit of this option carries the risk of consuming valuable time and resources that we cannot afford to waste."