A mini hydro plant, dating back to 1926, took a step towards being bought back to life after Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM) received a $20,000 grant from the NSW Government last week.
COREM will now undertake a pre-feasibility study to investigate whether the Essential Energy owned Mullumbimby Hydro Power Station can be switched back on.
Last week Energy Minister Hon Don Harwin visited the Mullumbimby hydro power station and Laverty’s Gap weir with COREM Project Manager Svea Pitman.
Also in attendance were primary industries minister Niall Blair and renewable energy secretary Ben Franklin.
‘Having both Ministers on site was an enormous show of support for this project from the NSW Government and COREM is thrilled to have minister Blair’s interest in this innovative and historically significant project’, Ms Pitman said.
‘COREM is very excited to receive this support from the NSW government. We are in a great position with this project with nearly all the original hydro infrastructure still in place. The weir and race currently provide the town water supply to Mullumbimby and the original turbines are on site at the old power house which is adjacent to the Mullumbimby sub-station’, she added.
‘We are working with all the key stakeholders including Essential Energy, Byron Shire Council, renewable energy secretary Ben Franklin and the NSW government.
‘There are some regulatory barriers around access to water however the weir was originally constructed for the hydro so we are hopeful these can be overcome. With this funding we will be able to ascertain if the project can progress further,’ she said.
Congratulating COREM on the grant, Mr Franklin said they are ‘not only creating economic benefits for the whole North Coast, but they’re also doing their bit for the environment. That is why we are providing this extra support to ensure they can continue to grow and expand their great work.’
The entire hydro site is heritage listed with state, national and international significance, and re-commissioning the power station would be a fitting way to celebrate the nearly 100-year-old history Mullumbimby has with community owned renewable energy.
Minister Harwin said the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s $300,000 Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative is supporting 10 projects and feasibility studies across the state, including this one.
‘The initiative provides an opportunity for innovators and early adopters to test and trial new clean energy solutions,’ Mr Harwin said.
‘Government relies on strong partnerships with the private sector as part of our transition to a clean, affordable and reliable energy future,’ he added.