From the Newsroom

Cr Greg Clancy

Councillor clarifies water sale position

Geoff Helisma

In last week’s story, Watersupply secured, electricity generation defunct, it was stated that only Cr Greg Clancy opposed Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) decision – to pursue the recommissioning of the Nymboida hydroelectric generation station as part of acquiring the water supply infrastructure – made in a confidential session at the October 2019 CVC meeting.

Cr Clancy also opposed the initial decision at the June 2018 CVC meeting – Cr Richie’ Williamson’s notice of motion – to “fund an independent desktop investigation into the economics of Clarence Valley Council generating electricity at the Nymboida power station”.

Cr Clancy contacted the Independent to clarify his reasons for opposing the CVC decision, which was supported by the eight other councillors at the October 2019 meeting.

“I wish to make it clear what my position was and is on the transfer of the Essential Energy infrastructure at Nymboida, including the power station, to Clarence Valley Council,” he wrote in a statement.

“I have always supported moves/motions for Clarence Valley Council to take over/buy the water infrastructure.

“What I did oppose was a notice of motion by Cr Richie Williamson because I didn’t have the ‘risk appetite’ to approve expenditure of up to $480,000.

“I opposed this [because] it had been determined that to recommission the power station would be uneconomic and that is why Essential Energy did not restore the power station after the tunnel collapse.”

At the October 2019 CVC meeting, the report to council highlighted the risks associated with recommissioning the hydroelectric generation station, including taking on “roles that fall outside of core council business”, “the water licence is limited by flows in the Nymboida River (in the case of low flows, river water is not available for power generation)”, and the likelihood of more flood events like the one that damaged the infrastructure in 2013 “incapacitating the power station”.

Based on consultant GHD’s findings in its confidential report to the October 2019 CVC meeting, staff advised councillors: “Should council have the risk appetite to proceed further with recommissioning the Nymboida Hydro power station … CVC would need to fund: Expert consultants and solicitors to facilitate negotiations (initial estimates being in the order of $100,000); Consultants to undertake a detailed feasibility study (initial estimates being in the order of $80,000); and, Consultants to complete the engineering design and construction management (initial estimates being in the order of $300,000).”

These risks were adopted – CVC’s general manager Ashley Lindsay has advised that details of this expenditure will be released when the deal with EE is completed.

Cr Clancy continued with his statement: “In addition, the scheme would not have been able to gain green power accreditation, as it involved transferring water from one river to another and it is very unlikely that an extraction licence would be granted to do so.

“My understanding is that the infrastructure at the plant would have to be fully replaced and this would be cost prohibitive.

“The flows in the Nymboida River are also very variable and during droughts the river almost stops flowing.”