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Byron Shire
April 24, 2021

Mullum’s mini hydro plant one step closer

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Svea Pittman addresses last Thursday’s (October 11) COREM meeting on the progress of the Mullum Hydro plant. Photo supplied

Plans to reopen Mullumbimby’s historic hydroelectricity plant at Lavertys Gap have moved a closer in the last week.

Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM) hosted a community information evening last Thursday (October 11), to launch the Mullumbimby Mini Hydro pre-feasibility study and new website.

Now COREM has opened a Mullum Mini Hydro pop-up office of at the Mullumbimby railway station IQ Platform offices, just behind Byron Shire Council chambers.

Project Manager Svea Pitman said the office will initially be open Monday and Tuesday during office hours for people to come in and talk about the project and look at copies of the report and other related information.

She added it was ‘a very exciting time for COREM and all the people who have been involved with this project over the past three years towards the goal of re-commissioning the Mullumbimby hydroelectric power station’.

‘We are now at the stage where we have the go-ahead to continue working towards ‘At this stage it’s envisaged the turbine would work 45 per cent of the time as a full hydroelectric plant,’ she told Echonetdaily.

Ultimately, the other 55 per cent of the time it could be used like a big battery, pumping water up during the day and running the turbine at night.

That alone would provide 70 per cent of Mullumbimby’s night time power requirement.

Meeting hears about next steps

Despite the stormy weather, an enthusiastic crowd of more than 50 people attended Thursday’s meeting to hear Essential Energy Technical Operations Manager Tim Ronan discuss the viability of the project from a network perspective.

Svea Pitman, Project Manager for the COREM Mullum Mini Hydro project then launched the new website (www.mullumhydro.com.au ) and presented the findings of the Entura Energy Pre-Feasibility study.

She told the crowd the pre-feasibility study has determined that there ’may be potential to reinstate the heritage 288kW mini-hydro station, subject to:

  • Determining the condition of existing assets, such as the pipeline and the turbines/generators
  • Sourcing additional information such as hydrology records, water treatment plant records and township electricity demand records
  • Water licensing
  • Environmental sustainability

‘I am confident that we can undertake these additional requirements before the end of the year and I am already in the process of securing funding to extend the pre-feasibility stage to complete these tasks and we invite the community to come into the office and find out more about this historically significant community owned renewable energy project’, she continued.

‘We now have a real chance of getting this project up, with the right government support, it is definitely technically possible and there is a great deal of support and interest in the community’, Ms Pitman said.

Also speaking at the meeting were Vicky Brooke, founder and Chair of Zero Emissions Byron, and Dave Rawlins, Vice President of COREM, who updated the crowd on a number of renewable energy projects currently underway in Byron Shire.

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy Ben Franklin spoke on the government’s support for the project.


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