New England transmission project
The New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) will be serviced by new transmission network infrastructure, including transmission lines and energy hubs, which will transfer power generated by solar and wind farms to electricity consumers.
The NSW Government is in the early stages of planning a REZ in the New England region, centred around Armidale on the lands of the Biripi, Dainggatti, Nganyaywana, Ngarabal, and Gumbainggir people.
- The REZ has an intended network capacity of 8 gigawatts.
- It is expected to deliver up to $10.7 billion in private sector investment.
- It is expected to support around 830 operational jobs and 1,250 construction jobs.
Why the region was chosen
New England has some of the best natural energy resources in the country and some of the State’s finest potential sites for pumped-hydro development.
The indicative location of the New England REZ was chosen following a detailed statewide geospatial mapping exercise undertaken by the NSW Government in 2018. This initial analysis sought to identify optimal locations to host renewable energy generation around the State, including areas with strong renewable energy resource potential, proximity to the existing electricity network, and consideration of potential interactions with existing land uses, including agricultural lands and biodiversity conservation.
Since then, EnergyCo has worked through a process to refine the geographical area of the REZ. Read more about the methodology for refining the geographical area here.
The region has also attracted strong investor interest and is close to the existing transmission lines that connect to the NSW east coast, Upper Hunter and Queensland. This provides opportunities to increase NSW’s energy resilience and to export excess energy to Queensland.
The NSW Government's Emerging Energy Program has also recently awarded pre-investment funding to several pumped-hydro projects in the New England region, including the Critical State Significant Infrastructure Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro project.
Mayor Sam Coupland, on what the New England REZ will bring to Armidale
To ensure that the REZ delivers meaningful, long-term benefits to local communities, EnergyCo has established the New England REZ Regional Reference Group. The Group brings together a range of regional stakeholders, including representatives of local councils, Aboriginal Land Councils and regional NSW Government agencies.
Developing the New England REZ will be complex, and will take some years to design and build. The NSW Government will closely engage with stakeholders on the delivery of the REZ.
In 2021, the NSW Government received 80 registrations of interest, totalling 34 gigawatts of potential renewable energy projects. The number of responses to the ROI reflects the strong level of interest in the REZ and helps ensure only the most competitive projects will be chosen through the Consumer Trustees competitive tender processes.
The New England REZ was formally declared by the Minister for Energy under section 19(1) of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (the Act) and published in the NSW Gazette on 17 December 2021. View the Renewable Energy Zone (New England) Declaration Order here.
The REZ declaration is the first step in formalising the REZ under the Act and establishes EnergyCo as the Infrastructure Planner responsible for coordinating the development of the REZ. It also sets out the intended network capacity (size), geographical area (location) and infrastructure that will make up the REZ, and enables and sets the scope of key legislative functions under the Act, including access schemes and REZ network solutions (referred to in the Act as ‘REZ network infrastructure projects’).
As Infrastructure Planner, EnergyCo will make decisions such as assessing and recommending REZ network infrastructure projects and, if needed to maintain community support for the REZ, preventing generation or storage projects from connecting in a specified area within the REZ (if those projects have not received development consent).
The declaration follows an assessment of feedback received during the draft declaration exhibition period from 15 October to 12 November 2021. Minor adjustments to the geographical area have been made in response to the balanced consideration of proponent and community feedback. These amendments will also improve the delineation between areas captured within the REZ that are subject to potential future development and adjacent areas of National Park and World Heritage significance.
A stylised map of the specified geographical area of the REZ is included above for reference and accessibility purposes only. This stylised map does not form part of the declaration. The stylised map includes the existing 132 kV and 330 kV transmission infrastructure near and in the REZ as a geographical reference. You can download the GIS file of the New England REZ geographical area boundary here.
In the future, the Minister may amend the declaration to expand the specified geographical area of the REZ, increase the intended network capacity, specify additional generation, storage and network infrastructure, provide further details and specifications or correct a minor error.
The Act sets out that the New England REZ has an intended network capacity of 8 gigawatts. This aligns with the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO's) 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP).
New network infrastructure will be built in the REZ to enable new generation and storage projects to connect and transport their energy to consumers, both in and outside the REZ.
Some of this infrastructure will need to be built outside the REZ geographical area to connect the REZ to the main backbone transmission network. As the Infrastructure Planner for the REZ, EnergyCo is in the early stages of assessing what new network infrastructure should be built to to unlock and service the New England REZ.
EnergyCo will update this website as further information and engagement opportunities become available.
Developing the New England REZ will require careful consideration and planning and will take some years to design and build. The NSW Government will closely engage with stakeholders on the delivery of the REZ, including through the Regional Reference Group.