The $300 million Shoalhaven Hydro Expansion Project has been declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI) by the Minister for Planning because of its importance to NSW’s future energy security.
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Origin Energy proposes to expand the existing Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme from 240MW to 475MW, which would produce enough power for around 80,000 homes.
The proposed 235MW upgrade involves the construction of a new hydroelectric power and pump station and ancillary infrastructure which would be largely underground and located between Fitzroy Falls Reservoir and Lake Yarrunga.
According to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, the project is essential to NSW for economic reasons and would have environmental and social benefits by facilitating the state’s transition to a low emissions-based economy. It would also add increased competition in the electricity market, putting downward pressure on prices and creating around 350 jobs during construction.
Despite being declared ‘critical’, the project will still be subject to detailed community consultation and a full and thorough environmental assessment in accordance with NSW Government policies and standards.
Origin is expected to lodge two applications for the project, one for exploratory geotechnical works to inform the design of the project and the other for the expansion of the existing Shoalhaven scheme.
Origin will now request assessment requirements for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the exploratory works application. When received, the EIS will go on exhibition for community feedback. After the consultation period ends, the applicant prepare a Response to Submissions report, which will be made publicly available on its website.
The Department will then assess the proposal, taking into account environmental, social and economic impacts, all community and stakeholder submissions received during exhibition, and advice from government and independent experts. The Department’s recommendation, including any conditions, will then be referred to the NSW Minister for Planning for a final decision.
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