Our commitment to communities
Meaningful engagement with communities is central to Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) development.
We conduct ongoing, on-the-ground consultation with local communities and regional stakeholders in the regions that host REZs. Community feedback helps inform coordinated strategic planning to ensure that the REZ complements existing agricultural and primary-land uses, reflects local priorities, and retains existing economic activity and social values within these regions.
EnergyCo engages closely with local councils, First Nations people and communities, landholders and many other stakeholder groups to ensure that projects are welcome in the communities that host them. We will favour projects with strong community engagement and prioritise infrastructure with benefits that flow to other industries such as telecommunications that help keep our energy-intensive and agricultural industries competitive.
We also play an important role in ensuring generation and storage projects that connect to network infrastructure in the specified geographical area of the REZ have the support of the community. In certain circumstances, we can prohibit the connection of projects if needed to maintain community support (before those projects have received development consent). EnergyCo is developing guidelines to inform these decisions and provide clarity to all stakeholders. These guidelines will be published on this website.
In 2022, EnergyCo initiated a listening program to capture insights from across the community to ensure we are balancing the needs of people and their varying perspectives. Designed alongside experts from the Department of Planning and Environment’s Social Research team, the program seeks to gather insights around what the NSW community understands about:
- REZs and the infrastructure required to power them
- the long-term benefits they will provide to host communities and the people of NSW.
Listening to the community and understanding their views towards REZs will help us to deliver the meaningful outcomes that communities value as NSW transitions towards a cleaner energy future.
For more information on engagement activities, visit Latest updates.
The benefits of the REZs will be shared with communities in a coordinated and thoughtful way. We will work with the Consumer Trustee to ensure the economic benefits of the REZs are passed on to the communities that host them.
Through the collection of network infrastructure access fees, project developments will contribute millions of dollars in funding for community benefit sharing and employment purposes, which will be appropriately distributed across REZ communities.
We will seek further feedback from local communities and stakeholders in the REZs about how EnergyCo and the Consumer Trustee can develop and deliver these initiatives.
Negotiation with renewable energy developers
If you have strong commercial opportunities for generation or storage projects on your land, you may be approached by renewable energy developers. To help landholders navigate any approaches or negotiations, the NSW Government funded NSW Farmers to develop the Renewable Energy Landholder Guide. The guide provides information to assist landholders at all stages of development and operation, particularly:
- the role of landholders in the development process
- landholder rights and responsibilities
- potential impacts (positive and negative) of development.
View the guide on NSW Farmers website.
While we have ensured the REZ does not bisect any property lot, some property holdings may be both within and outside of the REZ. If you believe you may be impacted by this and have any questions, please contact us so we can provide information about where the REZ boundary is, and what that means for you.
The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap is expected to deliver 6,300 construction jobs and 2,800 ongoing jobs by 2030, mostly in regional NSW. At its peak, the Central-West Orana REZ is expected to support around 3,900 construction jobs in the region. The New England REZ is expected to deliver around 830 operational jobs, as well as 1,250 construction jobs each year.
The Renewable Energy Sector Board will oversee the operation of the renewable energy sector and the manufacture and construction of infrastructure in the sector. The Board will develop plans to maximise the use of locally produced and supplied goods and services, the employment of suitably qualified local workers and opportunities for apprentices and trainees in the renewable energy sector.
The Minister for Energy has appointed Dr Mark Apthorpe as the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Jobs Advocate. Dr Apthorpe is based in the Hunter and is the current chair of the Hunter Plant Operator Training School Ltd (HPOTS) and the Hunter section of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT). He has also held senior executive roles in energy and logistics businesses.
In his role as Jobs Advocate, Dr Apthorpe will advise the Minister on:
- strategies and incentives to encourage investment, development, workforce development, employment, education and training in the energy sector as NSW transitions to renewable energy. His focus will be on regional NSW, including the Hunter, Central Coast, Illawarra, Far West, South West, New England and Central West regions of NSW.
- road, rail and port infrastructure required in the regions specified above to promote export opportunities for generation, storage and network technology.