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Draft REZ declaration a step in the right direction: Hawes

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The region’s peak voice for business has welcomed the NSW Government’s draft declaration of the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

The proposal reveals the intended size, location and infrastructure of the key REZ, which attracted renewable generation and storage projects representing almost 40GW and more than $100 billion of potential investment in a recent return on investment (ROI) process.

The Hunter-Central Coast REZ encompasses an NSW industrial hub best known for coal power generation and aluminium smelting, and which offers huge promise for a transition to renewables – not least of all, offshore wind.

Hunter Business Chamber
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes.

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes said the draft declaration was another step forward to achieving a firmed renewable energy supply in an increasingly uncertain energy marketplace.

“The release of the document brings us closer to attaining the elusive goal of renewable energy certainty at a time when the only real certainty we have is the retirement dates of major existing coal fired assets,” he stated.

“And, some of those dates, like the Liddell Power Station near Muswellbrook, are fast approaching.

“For business and industry, what’s important is access to firmed, reliable and affordable energy so they can get on with their core business.

“Uncertainty increases vulnerability to energy price shocks, which is putting immense pressure on businesses and the community.”

Mr Hawes said Business Hunter was pleased to see the NSW Government had reached “this next milestone” in proactively planning a pathway to a new energy future in the region.

“The Hunter is well-placed in terms of our existing generation and distribution networks, as well as access to the grid and skilled workforce,” he explained.

“So, we’re looking forward to the activity and industry growth the new energy economy will generate.

“Last week we participated in an international round table focused on growing bilateral trade and investment partnerships and it was clear there is more than just local interest in renewable energy initiatives in the Hunter.

“The challenge now is to unite the community, all levels of government, investment houses, industry and business to get on with the important job of delivering renewable energy generation if we are to meet the respective production and carbon reduction goals we are setting ourselves.

“We’ll be taking a closer look at the draft declaration and the detail of the defined Hunter-Central Coast REZ.

“It’s a broad plan and in consultation with our members and other stakeholders, we’ll confirm the intentions of the order.”

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