The State Government has approved exploratory work on the Snowy 2.0 scheme that will allow construction of a tunnel to determine geological strata where the huge underground generation chamber is planned.
Snowy Hydro will be asked to contribute $10.5 million as an offset for its work at the site, which is just north of the Old Kiandra township in Kosciuszko National Park.
Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts said the approval would allow exploratory works to investigate the underground conditions at the proposed location for a pumped hydro power station cavern.
“Snowy Hydro Limited sought approval to construct a 3.1km tunnel and supporting infrastructure, as part of the Exploratory Works for Snowy 2.0,” Mr Roberts said.
“The Department of Planning and Environment has undertaken a rigorous assessment of the proposal, taking account of environmental, social and economic impacts, of community and stakeholder submissions and advice from other government agencies.
“This approval allows essential geological information to be gathered for the detailed design of the underground power station,” he said.
Mr Roberts said the compensation fund would be used by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) “to improve catchment health and to support the National Park’s unique environmental, heritage and recreational value”.
He said other conditions of approval for include:
● Detailed management plans to minimise traffic, water, biodiversity and heritage impacts and manage rehabilitation of the disturbed areas;
● Strict measures for the management of works involving the placement of material in Talbingo Reservoir;
● The provision of new recreational facilities at the Talbingo Reservoir if current areas are impacted by the project;
● Notifications to the community about road users on the local networks and water users on the Talbingo Reservoir;
● Rehabilitation following decommissioning.
He said Snowy Hydro will be submitting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) later this year for the Snowy 2.0 main works involving the construction of an underground power station with a generating capacity of around 2,000 megawatts and approximately 27km of power waterways linking the existing Tantangara and Talbingo Reservoirs.
The Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme is still awaiting final approval from the Federal Government. Snowy Hydro’s Board gave investment approval for the project late last year. The scheme will cost anywhere between $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion. Snowy Hydro is funding the project itself through a delayed dividend to its principal shareholder, the Federal Government.
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said money from the sale of NSW share in Snowy Hydro to the Commonwealth, about $4 billion, was being spent in rural and regional NSW.
“Every single cent of that money is going to rural and regional NSW, and these communities will also reap the benefits associated with the extension of the existing scheme with 2000 jobs expected to be created during peak construction,” Mr Barilaro said.
The Snowy 2.0 main works EIS will be publicly exhibited to provide the community with an opportunity to comment.
Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said NSW Government’s support for Snowy 2.0 was “critical for the security, affordability and reliability of the National Electricity Market (NEM) in the future”.
“The mighty Snowy Scheme keeps the lights on across the National Electricity Market at times of peak demand today, and Snowy 2.0 will build on our existing capabilities,” Mr Broad said.
“With more intermittent renewables coming online Snowy 2.0 will create an additional 2000 megawatts of on-demand energy generation and 175 hours of large-scale storage so households and businesses have energy when they need it most.
“Snowy 2.0 will deliver reliable energy at times of peak demand and can ‘fill the gaps’ by generating when wind and solar energy output is low.
“Snowy Hydro takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. We have a long and proven record of responsibly operating the Snowy Scheme within the national park and we will do everything possible to avoid or minimise impacts from construction of Snowy 2.0.
Snowy Hydro said the exploratory works involve excavating an exploratory tunnel to gain a greater understanding of the underground geological conditions at the proposed location of the new Snowy 2.0 power station. The works also include upgrades and establishment of access roads, establishment of a construction compound and supporting infrastructure, and other activities.
Already more than 50 local businesses have been involved in the project. In March 2018, Snowy 2.0 was declared NSW Critical State Significant Infrastructure.