ACEN Australia has welcomed the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public consultation by the New South Wales Government, marking the next milestone for the proposed Valley of the Winds renewable energy project in the Warrumbungle region.

Members of the public are now encouraged to view the EIS which will be on public exhibition until 20 June 2022.

When developed, the Valley of the Winds project will add over 800MW to NSW’s renewable energy capacity, helping to improve reliability and security of electricity supply as the state transitions many of its coal fired power stations.

In addition, the project will also stimulate economic activity for the Warrumbungle Shire. Across its estimated three-year construction period, it is expected that the project will create more than 500 jobs and more than $100M annually in value-add to the regional economy.

ACEN Australia Chief Executive Officer Anton Rohner commented that the release of the Valley of the Winds EIS for public exhibition is an exciting next step in the project’s journey towards providing clean, renewable energy for the nation.

“It is the culmination of more than two years of technical and environmental studies, and during this time, the project team has spent considerable time working with community and stakeholders”, said Rohner.

“We thank the communities and those that have participated in the process so far. We believe we’ve designed a project that offers the right mix of benefits and opportunities for the Warrumbungle region and the State of NSW”, he added.

The EIS seeks to provide an assessment of the project against relevant standards of the NSW Government’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Key sections within the document include environmental impact summaries such as natural values, environment, traffic, visual and noise. It also includes summaries related to social and economic impacts and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

“We understand an EIS is a large technical document. To assist readers navigate the key project information and findings of technical assessments, the team has developed a simple to use, easy to navigate on-line storyboard”, added Rohner.

As NSW embraces the opportunities a growing renewable energy industry brings, Mr Rohner highlighted the importance of sharing in the benefits that the Valley of the Winds project can provide. He further commented:

“Once the project is operational, there will be long-term employment and service provision opportunities for the region, with our modelling suggesting that around 100 direct and indirect jobs will be needed to support the wind farm over the next 25+ years”.

“We also have a commitment to employ and buy regionally where we can so we can keep the benefits local. For example, there will be likely opportunities for businesses to provide goods and services such as accommodation and catering, fencing, earthworks and landscaping, environmental monitoring, engineering, construction materials and equipment just to name a few”.

“We want to contribute to the Warrumbungle region and we are invested in its future vitality. In addition to a Voluntary Planning Agreement with local council, we’ve also committed to a community benefit fund and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with community members on identifying priority areas for this investment”.

Last October 2021, the Ayala group’s listed energy platform, ACEN increased its ownership in UPC\AC Renewables to 80% with the intent to be at 100 % ownership by early 2023. With this acquisition, UPC\AC Renewables has been re-branded to ACEN Australia.

ACEN President and CEO Mr Eric Francia said, “The company is pleased to be expanding its renewable energy portfolio and contributing to Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.

ACEN has been a partner of UPC Renewables since 2018 and we are immensely proud of the work already achieved by the Australia team”.

“While the UPC\AC Renewables name and brand is changing, our highly capable Australian team will remain in place, and our approach to building long term relationships built on trust with our host communities, and other stakeholders remains the same”, added Francia.

The Valley of the Winds project is being assessed as a State Significant Development under Part 4 of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is the responsible state planning authority for the project.