CEFC commits $490 million to NSW electricity grid upgrade

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has announced its single largest transaction since it began investing, potentially saving NSW electricity consumers up to $240 million via the Rewiring the Nation Fund (RTN).

Dubbo image by canva
The Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (CWO-REZ) is near the city of Dubbo, NSW. Image: Canva

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has pledged $490 million to support new electricity grid infrastructure in New South Wales, targeting the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (CWO-REZ). This zone, covering approximately 20,000 square kilometres around Dubbo and Dunedoo, is set to play a crucial role in Australia's transition to renewable energy.

The CEFC's funding, sourced from the Rewiring the Nation (RTN) Fund, will back expenditures such as land acquisition for transmission infrastructure and biodiversity offsets. This will enable solar and wind farms within the CWO-REZ to supply an additional 4.5 gigawatts of electricity to the national grid.

The financing arrangement is designed to lower overall project costs over a 20-year period, potentially saving NSW electricity consumers up to $240 million. By offering concessional finance terms, the CEFC aims to reduce financing costs, making the project more economically viable and speeding up its implementation.

The CWO-REZ project is expected to draw up to $10 billion in private investment by 2030, boosting the local economy and creating around 5,000 construction jobs at its peak. This initiative supports Australia's goal of achieving at least 82% renewable energy by 2030.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has noted the urgent need for timely investments in electricity generation, storage, and transmission to manage the reliability risks posed by retiring coal plants. The CWO-REZ has been identified as a priority project in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan for the National Energy Market, reflecting its importance in ensuring a stable energy supply.

EnergyCo, responsible for the CWO-REZ, has chosen a consortium—ACEREZ, consisting of ACCIONA, Cobra, and Endeavour Energy—as its preferred network operator to design, finance, build, and operate the project. The CEFC is also collaborating with this consortium on further RTN Fund investments in transmission infrastructure.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth stated, “The Central-West Orana REZ, centred around Dubbo, is a truly transformative project for Australia’s low emissions future and for the NSW economy. It will deliver a bigger, stronger, cleaner and more reliable energy grid fit for the 21st century. With an additional 4.5 GW in network capacity, it will also unlock new low cost solar and wind generation, backed up by battery storage."

Mr Learmonth added, “As much as 46 per cent of coal generation will exit our energy system by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2038. With access to some of the world’s best solar and wind resources, such as those in the Central-West Orana region, we have the potential to use this change to propel ourselves into a low emissions renewable energy future.”

Paul McCartney, CEFC CIO-RTN Fund, remarked, “We cannot over-state the importance of this investment in helping to close looming gaps in our energy system as coal-fired generators exit the power mix. This commitment demonstrates how the RTN Fund can play a key role in delivering the urgent investment in energy system development and commissioning that has been identified by AEMO.”

Overall, the CEFC has allocated over $1 billion to grid-related investments, with this $490 million commitment being part of a broader strategy to support renewable energy generation across Australia. Other CEFC investments include up to $100 million to support delivery of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, including NSW REZ developments, the Waratah Super Battery Project and the Hunter Transmission Project.

Read more about the Rewiring the Nation (RTN) Fund.

Energy Industry Partners


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