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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Micro solar gridlocked by NSW govt red tape

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The proponent behind a micro-grid solar farm and green energy storage facility in Byron Shire says that Essential Energy’s policy for connecting to the ‘poles and wires’ grid network is cost-prohibitive, and that the government-owned corporation does not encourage smaller operators to provide locally produced solar energy for residents and business.

Claims by Dieter Horstmann were put to Energy Minister Matt Kean (Liberal) with no reply.

Mr Horstmann says he is exploring a ‘way of working together and offering a proposal to the Tyagarah community. First, a response is needed from the Tyagarah community to see if they are willing to make the deal with Enova Energy and other involved parties’.

Through Tyagarah Green Energy (TGE), Mr Horstmann says he has approvals and is ready to go with a 5MW solar/battery plant at his property in Tyagarah, called Byron Eco Park (BEP). He also has plans for a hydrogen power plant.

He told The Echo he was given an ‘offer to connect’ to the State’s power grid by Essential Energy for $30,000, and that there is ‘little to no incentive for operators’ such as himself, given the price cost parity is similar for coal fired power stations, and that the cost is the same when paying into the grid, regardless of whether it comes from a coal fired station 100kms away, or is locally produced from solar.

Poles and wire monopoly

Essential Energy have a monopoly on the NSW energy grid, and according to their spokesperson, are ‘responsible for providing safe and reliable energy to more than 875,000 connected customers across 95 per cent of NSW’.

The Echo asked Essential Energy if ‘legislation needs to change to encourage smaller operators to invest into solar/battery proposals?’

An Essential Energy spokesperson instead outlined their responsibilities as an energy provider and acknowledged the Byron Eco Park proposal.

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