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The Nymboida hydro electric power station was damaged during severe flooding in February 2013 and subsequently decommissioned by Essential Energy. Image: File pic

EE insists on ‘comprehensive confidentiality agreement’ before hydro investigation begins

Geoff Helisma |

Clarence valley Council (CVC) is one step closer towards considering whether or not it will pursue owning and operating the currently decommissioned Nymboida hydro electric power station.

A report “updating” the progress of an “investigation into the economics of recommissioning” the station was tabled at the June 25 CVC meeting.

The report was tabled a year on from councillors adopting a notice of motion from Cr Richie Williamson in June 2018, to “fund an independent desktop investigation”, with a preferred outcome of CVC “owning and operating the hydro scheme, for the generation of power … for local government use, with any surplus supply being sold to the grid”.

The 2018 decision also supported “investigating any opportunity for the generation of solar energy at/or on the Shannon Creek Dam”.

A maximum spend of $40,000 was adopted for the desktop investigation.

Parameters set for the investigation include a “review of the known risks and benefits, including (but not limited to) infrastructure, licensing risks, heritage risks, carbon reduction payments, available government grants and schemes for capital items (for the power station to remain in public hands)”.

Staff said in their report to the June 25 council meeting that CVC “has been negotiating with Essential Energy (EE) as the owner of the Nymboida Hydro Electric Power Station”.

“This negotiation has been to gain access to the site and to key data held by EE to enable the investigation to proceed,” staff wrote.

“EE have been concerned that … providing access and information on the site may compromise future commercial opportunities that EE may have with the site.

“On the 15 May 2019, EE agreed to work with council and [the investigation consultant] GHD, to facilitate the investigation subject to a comprehensive confidentiality agreement.

“The agreement has been reviewed by Council and, although it imposes restrictions on the use and release of information, it should not prevent the investigation proceeding and the final report being presented to Council.

“Subject to GHD’s concurrence to work under the confidentiality agreement, the project should commence within the next two weeks, with the final report received 10 weeks after the project commences.”