What is the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone?
A Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) is hub of renewable projects across a region that form a virtual power station, producing a large amount of energy for the state.
The Central-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) is the first of five REZ's planned for New South Wales. The region includes Wellington, Elong Elong, Gulgong, Dunedoo and Coolah. The rollout of the REZ will be managed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment NSW.
The REZ is expected to be shovel-ready by the end of 2022 and produce enough clean energy to power 1.4 million homes when complete.
Indicative Central-West Renewable Energy Zone. Source: DPIE
A time of transition for the Central-West Orana
The development of the Central-West Orana REZ will bring massive opportunities to the region. The Department estimates it will bring $5.2 Billion into the region and create 3900 construction jobs at its peak.
As one of the faster developing REZs, there are many looking to the region as a leader and early adopter, including governments, renewable energy developers and other regional communities across Australia.
Renewable developments create economic activity in the form of direct jobs, construction and operation as well as indirect jobs and local business activity, but there are many other ways the value of the REZ can be leveraged into value for regional towns and local landholders.
Leveraging renewable investment for the benefit of the local community
During this window of transition, we have the opportunity to negotiate better outcomes for locals living in the CWO REZ. This could look like grants to community projects, power sharing agreements to secure cheap local power, renewable co-ownership arrangements, as well as payments to wind and solar farm neighbours and landholders.
These types of benefits that exist outside the realm of normal business activity or government contributions are collectively called community benefit sharing arrangements. It's up to us in the community to advocate for the best possible benefit sharing arrangements & ensure this massive regional investment is leveraged into better outcomes for the whole community.
You can read more about the different kinds of community benefits from renewables that we are already seeing around Australia in our Handbook.
Collaboratively designing a plan for the Central-West Orana
We have begun working with the Central-West Orana community to collaborate on a plan for the future of the region that incorporates benefits of renewable investment into meeting local needs and delivering a lasting impact.
If you live in the region, sign up below to stay in the loop about our work and how to participate in designing the community plan.