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Frequently asked questions

These FAQs should be read in conjunction with the Central-West Orana REZ Access Rights Application Process Guidelines, including the Terms explained in the Glossary.

Application process

How can I ask questions about the application process?

Prior to commencement of the application process all communications with EnergyCo must be to the access team mailbox [email protected].

After commencement of the application process, all communications with EnergyCo concerning the application process must be made in writing by the Applicant’s Primary Data Room Contact via the Data Room's Q&A Facility.

How do I submit an application?

Applications must be submitted via the Central-West Orana REZ Access Rights Application Process Data Room. To gain access to the Data Room, interested applicants will be required to complete and return the following to EnergyCo:

  • Confidentiality and Disclaimer Deed Poll
  • Signed Data Room Guidelines

From the application commencement date, applicants will be provided access to the Central-West Orana REZ Access Application Process Data Room which will contain the Returnable Schedules and other documents needed to prepare and submit the applications.

Why are access rights only being conditionally allocated at first?

After assessing all applications, EnergyCo will notify successful applicants that they have a conditional allocation of access rights, subject to the applicant executing the Project Development Agreement and Access Payment Deed. This notification will detail the final steps the applicant must complete to conclude the application process.

The conditional allocation of access rights does not constitute an acceptance of the application submitted by the successful applicant. Successful applicants will not be considered to hold access rights until the access rights agreements are duly executed and EnergyCo has registered the access right in the access rights register.

Under Schedule 1A clause 2 of the EII Regulation, EnergyCo has a function to establish, administer, regularly update and operate an access rights register under an access scheme. EnergyCo may require additional information from applicants prior to registration, to satisfy the requirements of the EII Regulation.

An access right becomes valid when EnergyCo registers it in the access rights register.

If I don’t apply in this application process will there be a future application round?

Applicants that are not ready to participate in this application process or are unsuccessful in this application process may seek access rights in future allocation processes. Subject to access rights being available and in line with the Central-West Orana REZ Access Scheme Declaration, EnergyCo expects to allocate future tranches of Central-West Orana REZ access rights after competitive tenders conducted by AEMO Services, as the Consumer Trustee.

Bonding and connection

If a successful project does not post bonding, can they retain their access rights and hub-to-project (H2P) solution?

Granting of access rights and development of the H2P will be conditional on the access right holder providing the required bonding. Failure to provide the bonding, in accordance with an executed Access Payment Deed, will result in termination of an applicant's access right contract and removal of the H2P solution from the network design.

If a Project is not ready to apply in this application process, can I still secure an access right and connect in the future to Central-West Orana REZ?

Projects or applicants that are not ready to participate in this application process or applicants that are unsuccessful in this application process may seek access rights in any future processes expected to be run by the Consumer Trustee or EnergyCo.

Projects seeking access rights in future processes will need to plan and procure the assets required for connection of their project to an Energy Hub under the National Electricity Rules (NER) contestability framework for transmission assets (referred to as the generator led model).

Can applicants participating in the application process continue discussions with EnergyCo and ACEREZ on H2P, connections and related matters?

There are certain activities in relation to the development of the H2P network, REZ development coordination and REZ connections and commissioning process that will continue in parallel with the application process. These activities may involve Applicants, EnergyCo, ACEREZ as the preferred Network Operator, AEMO, AEMO Services other NSW government agencies (e.g. Transport for NSW) and local councils.

In accordance with governance and probity procedures, EnergyCo will ensure appropriate information controls are in place between the continuation of these discussions and the application process.

Are access rights allocated per connection point or per project?

Access rights will be allocated on a per connection point basis. Access fees will also be determined on a per connection point basis.

What share of transmission costs are expected to be paid by generators as part of the access fee?

Please refer to the Central-West Orana REZ Draft Access Fee Guidelines, to be published by AEMO Services, as the Consumer Trustee, around April 2024 for details of access fees.

What is the term of the period over which Access fees must be paid?

The Access Payment Deed sets out the terms and conditions for the payment of access fees including the date from which access fees are paid and the term over which access fees are paid. Refer to the Appendix E of the Guidelines for further details.

Commitment to fostering local community support

What is an access scheme?

Access schemes are a key part of the NSW Government's work to coordinate and encourage investment in REZs and to realise the objectives of the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and its enabling legislation.

Access schemes set a physical limit on the amount of generation and storage that can connect to a REZ. A project must hold an access right before connecting to any network where an access scheme applies.

For more information, visit Access schemes.

Will EnergyCo consider community support for projects as part of the assessment of applications?

EnergyCo will assess each project’s capabilities and capacity to address community concerns as part of the assessment process, in line with the objectives of the application process. Separately, the Project Development Agreement that each successful applicant will execute with EnergyCo will also include social licence obligations. The template Project Development Agreement is available here.

Will the allocation of access rights establish a contractual obligation on the Applicant to deliver on their commitments to local communities?

As a pre-condition to being allocated access rights, applicants must enter into a Project Development Agreement with EnergyCo and an Access Payment Deed with the Scheme Financial Vehicle. 

Under the Project Development Agreement, the applicant will be required to comply with social licence commitments through a community engagement Plan and, Industry and Aboriginal Participation Plan. 

Under the Access Payment Deed, the proponent must pay access fees to the Scheme Financial Vehicle which includes a component for community and employment purposes. These components will ultimately be used by EnergyCo to provide benefits to communities in REZs.

How will EnergyCo administer the community and employment component of Access Fees to deliver benefits for communities impacted by the REZ?

Community and employment purpose components of access fees will be administered by EnergyCo through its Community and Employment Benefit Program (the Program). The Program will provide funding to local community groups, local councils, First Nations organisations and other key stakeholders to contribute to the long-term prosperity of regional communities and ensure that communities that host the new energy infrastructure are left better off than they were before.

For information on the Central-West Orana REZ Community and Employment Benefit Program, visit the FAQs.

How will the application process ensure proponents are held to high standards?

The Project Development Agreement that the successful applicants will execute with EnergyCo will have obligations to hold the projects to high standards including compliance with the Access Right Agreements (to be published in April 2024). The template Project Development Agreement is available here.

Will the expedited process reduce expected benefits for host communities?

The application process will not reduce benefits for host communities. The process expedites the allocation of access rights being granted to renewable energy and storage developers and these developers will be charged access fees, which support the delivery of the Community and Employment Benefit Program.

What is the current status of the Central-West Orana REZ transmission project's planning approval?

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Central-West Orana REZ transmission project was publicly exhibited last year. During that period, EnergyCo invited government agencies, stakeholders and the community to review the documentation and provide feedback via a formal submission for consideration in the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure’s (DPHI) assessment of the project.

EnergyCo has reviewed the submissions and written a Response to Submissions report that summarises the feedback and EnergyCo’s responses. Feedback from the community informed a number of key changes to the project, which have been described and assessed in an Amendment Report. Both reports were published on 11 March 2024 on the NSW Planning Portal.

DPHI is now reviewing the documents and will complete a draft Assessment Report which may include recommended conditions of approval. A final assessment report will then be provided to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, who will make a determination on the project as a Critical State Significant Infrastructure project. EnergyCo is aiming to have all relevant planning approvals (NSW and Commonwealth) by mid-2024.

EnergyCo will continue to engage with community, impacted landowners, government agencies and other stakeholders to minimise potential impacts on the environment and community and keep people informed about the progress of the project.