Forums help future proof regional communities

26 March 2024

Chief Operating Officer Luke Jenner has encouraged regional communities to be empowered by large-scale and localised renewable energy generation.

Luke outlined how regional, rural and remote communities can future-proof themselves during a series of regional development forums that Essential Energy attended in Taree, Bellingen and Kempsey during March and February.

The three forums were an opportunity to discuss the future of energy with stakeholders on the Mid North Coast while showcasing Essential Energy’s innovation trials and regional strategies to support the energy transition.

Luke said the forums provided highly meaningful insights into the infrastructure already in place on the network as a pathway to position regional, rural and remote NSW a renewable energy leader.

“With the 2023 Electricity State of Opportunities report showing the retirement of approximately 20 per cent of fossil fuel generators by 2033, facilitating renewable projects across our footprint is imperative.”

“There is a forecast pipeline of 20.8 GW of additional energy generation and storage developments expected to be in operation on the National Electricity Market by the end of 2032-33,” Luke explained.

This is on top of the existing large-scale solar, wind and hydroelectric facilities across 32 sites in the Essential Energy network, with a total generation capacity of 1478.6MW. The largest is the 113.18MW Boco Rock Wind Farm, southwest of Nimmitabel in the Snowy Mountains region. Additionally, the 145MW Flyers Creek Wind Farm, connected to the Essential Energy 132kV network, is currently being commissioned near Orange.

“An increasing demand for electrification has also led to an increasing sense of urgency to progress generation, storage and transmission developments to maintain a secure, reliable and affordable supply of electricity to homes and businesses,” he said.

Luke spoke about Essential Energy’s key priorities including improving the connections process, providing better customer solutions, and unlocking capacity in the network for more renewable generation projects.

“We are working with industry and Government to develop ways to increase the use of customer energy resources like rooftop solar and battery storage,” Luke said.

“By supporting locally generated and stored energy across Essential Energy’s distribution network, we can enable economic development and job growth in regional, rural and regional NSW.”

Read more about enabling regional development and resilient communities.

Luke Jenner speaking at a regional forum

Essential Energy Chief Operating Officer Luke Jenner speaking at the Regional Development Forum in Taree.