EnergyCo announces access rights update for Central-West Orana REZ


The New South Wales (NSW) government is fast-tracking a package of reforms that will enable EnergyCo to allocate an initial tranche of access rights for up to 4.5 GW of new solar, wind and storage capacity in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) access scheme.

The government is keen to expedite the application process so it can complete the design of the zone and reach financial close, which is scheduled for the second half of 2024. Construction is expected to start in early 2025 with the new infrastructure to commence operation in 2027-2028.

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 the state, said to obtain initial access rights for the Central-West Orana REZ, projects will be required to comply with a set of minimum criteria.

EnergyCo also said the first allocation of access rights will be offered separately to the long-term energy service agreements (LTESA) program. It is expected this reform will not extend beyond the awarding of the initial tranche of access rights.

The reforms will also include a sunset clause that will allow for any agreements to be terminated if developers fail to progress their project in a timely way.

The Environmental Impact Statement for the Central-West Orana REZ was recently placed on public exhibition and a response to submissions will be released early this year, ahead of state and Commonwealth planning approvals, expected in mid-2024.

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 6 GW of new network capacity by 2038. The renewable energy zone is expected to generate up to $10 billion (USD 6.59 billion) in private investment in the region by 2030.

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.

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.

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