NSW budget to fund $1b Energy Security Corporation

This month’s NSW budget will fund a $1 billion Energy Security Corporation (ESC) and provide $800 million to speed the transition to renewable energy.

Premier Chris Minns

Once established, the ESC will back commercial projects under a similar model as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. 

The ESC, promised by Labor ahead of the state election, will invest in storage projects that boost the reliability of the state’s electricity network, as well as addressing gaps in the market as NSW transitions to renewables. 

This could include investing in community batteries and virtual power plants that pool electricity generated from rooftop solar, the government says.

Boosting REZ connection

The government will also also seek to bring forward the connection of renewable power to the grid via an additional $800 million injection of funds into the Transmission Acceleration Facility.

The funding will  support work in the state’s renewable energy zones including the Central-West Orana REZ, the Hunter Transmission Project and the Waratah Super Battery.

Premier Chris Minns says the investments will eventually be recouped from private developers and returned to the facility, which is administered by the government’s REZ planner EnergyCo.

“This additional $1.8 billion investment puts the renewable energy roadmap back on track. It will accelerate the transition to renewables, to ensure NSW households and communities have a reliable supply of clean, affordable electricity,” Energy Minister Penny Sharpe said in a statement on Thursday.

“These investments will reignite the first of our Renewable Energy Zones in the Central West-Orana and make sure local communities see early benefits.”

The announcement comes after Mr Minns last week released the NSW Electricity Supply and Reliability Check Up and the government’s response, which flags extending the lifetime of the Eraring coal-fired power plant beyond its planned shut down in 2025.

Climate Council welcomes announcement

The Climate Council’s Dr Jennifer Rayner

Head of Advocacy at the Climate Council, Dr Jennifer Rayner, said the funding should recharge NSW’s clean energy transition and help ensure the original deadline for Eraring’s closure would be met.

“If the NSW government goes all-in on these initiatives, then it can power past the challenge of phasing out coal from our energy system and close our biggest coal-fired power station, Eraring, by 2025 as planned,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Minns announced the government will this month submit the project’s Environmental Impact Statement for the Central-West-Orana REZ, located near Dubbo, to the DPE for approval, in what he described as amajor milestone for the project.

The EIS will go on public exhibition within weeks.

The state budget will be handed down on September 19.

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