Central-West Orana REZ reaches transmission infrastructure milestone


An environmental impact statement (EIS) for the transmission infrastructure that will connect the proposed Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) to the electricity grid in New South Wales (NSW) has been lodged with the state’s Department of Planning and Environment.

The initial stage of the Central-West Orana REZ, which encompasses approximately 20,000 square kilometres centred around the towns of Dubbo, Dunedoo and Mudgee, is to deliver at least 3 GW of new network capacity to replace coal-fired power generation.

The REZ will be serviced by new transmission network infrastructure, including high-capacity transmission lines and energy hubs. The project calls for the development of new twin double circuit 500 kV transmission lines between Wollar and the proposed substations at Merotherie and Elong Elong, and connections from these lines to new large-scale solar, wind and energy storage projects in the REZ.

The transmission infrastructure EIS, which will remain open for public feedback until 26 October 2023, provides detail about the transmission project, including an assessment of environmental, social, and economic matters and measures to mitigate and avoid potential impacts.

EnergyCo, which is leading the development of the REZ transmission network infrastructure in its capacity as the infrastructure planner for the renewable energy zones in NSW, said the new infrastructure will be critical for the successful operation of the Central-West Orana REZ.

EnergyCo said it will host a series of information sessions in the coming weeks to support the release of the EIS.

NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe said the lodgement of the EIS demonstrates the government’s commitment to delivering on the state’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and ensuring new generation is up and running before old coal-fired power plants close.

Released in 2020, the 20-year roadmap calls for at least 12 GW of renewable energy backed up by 2 GW of storage by 2030, helping replace capacity lost with the shutdown of coal power generators including AGL Energy’s Liddell, and Origin Energy’s Eraring.

“The Central West Orana transmission project will be capable of connecting at least 3 GW of renewable energy generated by wind and solar projects, which is enough to power a quarter of the state’s energy demand, as well as another 2 GW of firming storage,” Sharpe said.

The Central-West Orana REZ is the first of five designated clean energy zones detailed in the NSW Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. REZs will also be developed in the New England, Hunter-Central Coast, South-West and Illawarra regions.

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