The state government’s Energy Corporation of NSW, better known as EnergyCo, has issued letters to acquire the land and easements needed to connect the state’s Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) to consumers in metropolitan areas.
It is believed around 130 landowners have been impacted.
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the transmission project is still in development, with a spokesperson for EnergyCo telling pv magazine Australia it is on track to be displayed for public exhibition by the end of this year.
The high capacity transmission lines are considered state significant infrastructure, meaning projects follow an alternate approval pathway that makes their realisation more a question of ‘when’ than ‘if.’
Given the number of impacted landholders is around 130, how quickly acquisition agreements can be reached is not definite. Pv magazine Australia understands EnergyCo is hoping to finalise the acquisition negotiations within around nine months. This, however, is dependent on whether any landowners decide to take the matter to court, which could add around 12 to 18 months of delay.
“EnergyCo’s priority is to complete any acquisitions by negotiated agreement,” the EnergyCo spokesperson said. “Landowners have been provided with an acquisition support team to help them understand their rights and obligations together with any other aspect of the acquisition process.”
Under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act in New South Wales, affected landholders must be paid at least the current market value for their land, as well as losses for disturbances. On top of this, the state government in 2022 introduced a scheme to pay landowners $10,000 (USD 6,700) per year, for 20 years, for every kilometre of new high-voltage transmission infrastructure passing through their property.
As mentioned, the issuance of EnergyCo’s acquisition letters marks beginning of the formal negotiation process with landowners.
EnergyCo says the Central-West Orana transmission link’s public EIS exhibition later this year will include a formal submissions process managed by the Department of Planning and Environment. “EnergyCo will notify the community once the EIS is placed on public exhibition,” it added.
EnergyCo released its first set of detailed plans and costing around the state’s Renewable Energy Zones in May in the form of its NSW Network Infrastructure Strategy. Renewable Energy Zones are effectively hubs of new clean energy generation which will underpin the state’s transitions away from coal.
According the EnergyCo, four of the state’s five REZs (Illawarra’s REZ is yet to be costed), carry a preliminary estimates price tag of $7.8 billion. These zones will add an extra 14 GW of renewable generation to the state by 2030.
Specifically, the Central-West Orana REZ will add 4.5 GW. This is up from the 3 GW flagged in earlier planning documents.
With the mammoth transformation set to occur in the state’s REZs, local communities and councils are increasingly banding together to ensure enduring benefits are provided to impacted areas.
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