FLOW-ON EFFECT: 20ML a day will be pumped down Goolang Creek to create environmental flow for the system.
FLOW-ON EFFECT: 20ML a day will be pumped down Goolang Creek to create environmental flow for the system.

Power plant on the table

THE "lunacy" of shutting down the Nymboida Hydro Electric Power Station has been exposed in the revelation it would only cost $3-4 million to reopen it, says a local landholder.

The revelation came at a meeting between power station owners Essential Energy, government departments, Clarence Valley Council and local residents at the Grafton District Services Club on Wednesday.

A representative of a residents' group petitioning the NSW Government to reopen the power station, Shane Sloan, said the figure Essential Energy chief engineer Ken Stonestreet told the meeting it would need to reopen the power station was between $3 million and $4 million.

"It exposed the lunacy of holding this up for what is really a small amount of money," Mr Sloan said.

However, Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson, who chaired the meeting, said the situation was more complex than it appeared.

"I thought the meeting was constructive and positive, with plenty of goodwill on both sides," he said.

"There was unanimous support for a whole-of-NSW-Government approach on the matter.

"There was unanimous support for reopening the power station, generating 1.5 megawatts from two or three turbines.

"And there was unanimous support for getting 20 megalitres a day of environmental flow into the Goolang and Blaxland creek systems."

Cr Williamson said 10ML would begin flowing today, with another 10ML to come on line in the next week.

He said while confident there was goodwill towards reopening the power station, it was a long way off.

He pointed out there were some complexities involving water licences that would need a whole-of-government approach to work through.

There were also environmental issues such as a fish ladder for the Nymboida Weir, erosion in the creek system and the management of bridges.

Mr Stonestreet said key stakeholders aired their concerns in line with the historical, environmental and social significance of the power station to the community.

"There's no silver bullet," he said. "We're investigating all feasible options for the future of the facility, however, it's a complex issue that requires detailed consultation with regulatory authorities and local stakeholders, and this meeting was a fantastic opportunity to hear from those parties.

"The challenge for Essential Energy is to balance the concerns and needs of the community with operational, commercial and safety issues."



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