Households and industry are being promised cheaper and cleaner power, with the NSW government announcing the start of a massive funding package ahead of next week’s state budget.
Energy Minister Matt Kean said the plan would drive investment in private infrastructure worth $32 billion in renewable energy over the next decade.
It will generate 6300 construction jobs and 2800 ongoing jobs, along with $1.5 billion in lease payments for landowners, especially in regional NSW for wind and solar farms.
Mr Kean said the new infrastructure will put NSW in the top 10 for the lowest industrial electricity prices in the OECD.
“Our priority is to keep the lights on and get power prices down, with the roadmap forecast to save NSW households an average of $130 and small businesses an average of $430 on their electricity bills each year,” Mr Kean said.
Mr Kean said the transition away from coal-fired power would start with grants worth $50 million in the state budget on November 17.
Pumped hydro projects are set to take over the state’s baseload power capacity as four out of NSW’s five coal-fired power plants are phased out in the next 15 years.
“We are providing money to make sure that we get two gigawatts of pumped hydro storage. That means that we are not only getting cheap electricity, we are also getting reliable electricity,” Mr Kean said.
The state opposition’s energy spokesman, Adam Searle, has given the party’s initial support. But he said it was yet to see details of the legislation.
“We welcome the plans. But after a decade of delay, NSW is now in a race against time to deliver the cleaner energy supply needed for the future,” Mr Searle said.
He said he wants to see local jobs and manufacturing given priority in any grants or tenders awarded to the private sector.
“It would be a complete travesty if, in delivering the next generation of the state’s energy assets, local businesses and local workers were cut out of the action,” he said.
The Nature Conservation Council’s Chief Executive Chris Gambian commended the plan, describing it as “serious action on climate change in a way that will also create jobs and bring down power prices”.