New England set to become clean energy power hub of Australia

Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall.
Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall.

Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall scaled a 137-metre high turbine at Sapphire Windfarm before announcing plans to transform the New England into the power hub of Australia.

An $80 million investment by the State Government will help fund an 8,000-megawatt New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) or in Minister Kean's words "the biggest power station in the country".

"Cheap, clean, renewable energy will be generated right here in the New England region. It'll see $12 billion worth of investment coming into our communities here. Over 2000 new jobs will be involved in the construction of this power station and 1300 permanent jobs once complete," he said.

As the New England naturally offers wind, solar and land, Mr Kean said the project will focus on ensuring the build is done in a coordinated way to protect prime agricultural land.

The first phase will see the State Government work with local councils in the region, including Glen Innes Severn Council, and community members to map and plan where the zone will be build and the energy mix involved.

"We have to plan where the generation will go, where the wind farm will go and where the storage will go; all in alignment with the community so we have their support. We also have to make sure we plan for the building of transmission to take the electricity generated here to the big markets on the east coast."

Minister Kean said the timeline of construction will begin in days lasting until 2030 and believes the announcement will see families and businesses across the state benefit from cheaper, cleaner, reliable power.

Mr Marshall said the Renewable Energy Zone will be the most significant development for the New England region in a whole generation.

"We are talking about converting the wonderful resources we have and transforming our region into the virtual electricity powerhouse of NSW. For the first time ever in our region's history, we will be an exporter of energy which means more jobs, more money, more investment and more growth."

Mr Marshall said the State Government was eager to avoid unnecessary angst, land use conflicts and "awkward town hall meetings".

Glen Innes Severn Council Mayor Carol Sparks said it is a very positive step for us here in the New England.

Given the recent events of drought, bushfires, covid, business closures, this has provided a boost for our community to know that we are going to be central to the renewable energy distribution to the state.

"Having spoken to the minister Minister Kean, and Adam Marshall who has been a great support to us the past couple of years he said we will be getting 1300 jobs in and around our region

"Renewable energy has given us opportunities to create jobs and grow the community.

Mayor cr Sparks said this will be a great addition to the local area and a boost to local business. We want people to come and start business that are associated with the renewable energy

"This opportunity is something we can benefit from by growing our community."