The Nymboida Power station.
The Nymboida Power station.

Could hydro renewal throw lifeline to Nymboida?

AS THE Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks up the possibility of a Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0, to add more hydro-electricity to the grid, a former mayor points out we already have it here.

Mayor from 2008 to 2016 Richie Williamson said the historic Nymboida Hydro-Electric Power Station has sat idle on the banks of Goolang Creek since early 2013.

Cr Williamson was Clarence Valley mayor when station owner Essential Energy pulled the plug on it in 2013.

The decision came after floodwaters caused a bulkhead containing pipes taking water from the Nymboida River to the powerhouse to fail, unleashing a torrent in Goolang Creek which damaged the power station.

Cr Williamson said it was a disgrace the station had sat idle for nearly four years.

"It could be up and operational if there was the political will for it to happen," he said.

"In my view with the current debate on green power generation, it's madness to have it sitting there with the pipes capped."

Cr Williamson agreed with critics who said the five-megawatt capacity of the station was small, but said there were ways around this.

"I've been told power production at the station can be switched on and off quickly," he said.

"Nymboida could be left turned off when demand for electricity was low and switched on when demand was high.

"By selling to the grid during periods of high demand, when prices were at their peak, I have been told, could be extremely profitable."

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis also wanted the station working again.

"I think there would be some significant cost getting the water to the power station," Mr Gulaptis said.

"But if there was a way of getting it working, I would love to see it happen."

Essential Energy has not changed its tune since the State Government's break-up of the electricity network put it into the electricity distribution business.

A spokeswoman said: "Essential Energy has no plans to reopen the Nymboida Hydro-Electric Power Station given the age of the infrastructure, associated operating costs and the plant's ineligibility for green pricing and Renewable Energy Certificates.

"In early 2015, Essential Energy commenced negotiations with Clarence Valley Council to explore transferring ownership of the Nymboida water licences and assets associated with water supply for the cities

of Grafton and Coffs Harbour.

The spokeswoman said a Heads of Agreement was signed by Mr Gulaptis, on April 17, 2015, and by the-then council general manager Scott Greensill, on June 29, 2015, and negotiations around the agreement were ongoing.

She said organisations wanting to generate electricity from the power station would need to jump significant hurdles.

"The equipment within the Nymboida Hydro- Electric Power station -

built in the mid-1920s - remains in situ and has been placed in a state of preservation.

"A significant capital investment would be required to restore the hydro generation operations of the plant which were intermittent, due to seasonal water availability, prior to the severe localised flooding event of February 23, 2013.

"If water supply was re-established to the station, at least two new turbine/generator units would be required, along with associated water manifolding, as the current manifolding and the existing turbines are both beyond their serviceable engineering lives."