Developers to fund Riverina communities on back of 1.5 GW energy park


AGL and Sydney-headquartered company Someva Renewables have announced they will provide funding to the Hay Shire Council and Edward River Council regions in southwest New South Wales (NSW) if the proposed Pottinger Energy Park, that would include 1.5 GW of wind and solar and a four-hour battery, gets the go-ahead.

The joint venture partners said the funding, that is contingent on the project being developed near Booroorban about 60 kilometres south of Hay receiving approval from the NSW government and reaching final investment decision, will go towards local community development, economic diversification and infrastructure projects.

“We believe it is critical the local community shares in the economic and social benefits that the Pottinger Energy Park could create and funding aims to support the sustainability and prosperity of the region,” Someva Managing Director Jamie Chivers said.

The Pottinger Energy Park project, which will be sited within the state’s proposed South West Renewable Energy Zone and is to comprise a 300 MW solar farm, a 1.2 GW wind farm, and a 500 MW / 2,000 MWh battery energy storage system, is expected to commence operations in 2028, when the community funds will be delivered.

While no details about the exact funding figures were provided, the joint venture partners said the bulk of the funding would be provided via voluntary planning agreements with both the Hay Shire and Edward River councils throughout the 30-year life of the proposed project.

AGL and Someva also announced the creation of a dedicated First Nations Fund that would support First Nations initiatives in the region.

Chivers said the funding announcement comes after two years of collaboration with the local community and demonstrates the long-lasting benefits the Pottinger Energy Park aims to bring to the Riverina region.

Someva Renewables has conducted two years of consultations with local communities to co-design the Pottinger Energy Park.

Image: Someva Renewables

Hay Shire Mayor Carol Oataway said the local community supports the development of renewable energy in the region but is determined to ensure the opportunity is maximised for the community.

“We want to ensure that the clean energy transition happens with our community and not to us,” she said.

AGL Energy Hubs General Manager Travis Hughes said the Pottinger Energy Park could be a landmark development for the Riverina region.

“We hope this funding will help with infrastructure, First Nations programs, and training and job opportunities for the local community,” he said. “We are committed to working closely with communities across the Riverina to ensure this project not only brings renewable energy to the region, but also creates jobs and socio-economic development.”

Community and stakeholder consultations for the Pottinger Energy Park development were completed in 2022-23, and the NSW Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) received, while the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be ready for public exhibition in Q2 2024.

NSW government determination of the development application is expected in 2025, procurement and early works are scheduled for 2026 pending final approvals, and energy generation is anticipated to begin in 2028.

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