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March 3, 2021

Could Mullum’s old hydro plant run again?

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L to R: Parliamentary secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin, energy minister Don Harwin, COREM project manager Svea Pitman and primary industries minister Niall Blair.

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.

More information about the Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative can be found here. 


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  1. $20,000 is peanuts for a project like this
    Needs to be combined with both wind and solar
    For peak periods use the hydro for a backup when required if sufficient water available could be continually used and multiple turbines used.

  2. 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.

    If you mean the grant is purchasing the old plant, all good and well….but don”t you mean it is being “brought back to life.” In either case this is very good news.

  3. As a resident who lives directly opposite this area I have major concerns about this project. My water supply comes as part of the treatment plant and would be directly affected by this development. I am already experiencing noise issues around the Essential Energy substation and the Directlink interconnector. Council have stated that they don’t want to be involved in these issues and yet they can all stand around and think this new development is a great idea. How about community consulation COREM with the residents who will be affected by this?


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