Local News

Muswellbrook Shire Council chooses preferred operator as AGL for pumped hydro


Muswellbrook Shire Council has announced their preferred operator for a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) opportunity.

Energy giant AGL has been chosen by Council to take the project proposed to be built on Bells Mountain, to the next stage of feasibility and assessment.

PHES is a hydroelectric storage system that utilises the gravitational potential of water. In its simplest form, it involves two reservoirs, one at a higher elevation to the other.

During periods of surplus electrical generation, electricity is used to pump water to the top reservoir. At times of electrical energy deficit, water is released back down to the lower reservoir through turbines, generating electricity.

Muswellbrook Shire Council’s General Manager Fiona Plesman said it’s very exciting.

“Part of Council’s involvement in this process was to do a pre-feasibility study so we actually started on this a few years ago and we did some work initially with ANU and then we commissioned the University of Newcastle to undertake a pre-feasibility of a potential site to achieve just this sort of thing, pumped hydro.”

“During that pre-feasibility, we found there is potential for 250 megawatts and about 50 jobs may result in this so it is a reasonably sized power generator and of course we are ideally located to have this sort of thing because we have the power infrastructure already existing with AGL,” she said.

On the announcement from Council, AGL’s Executive General Manager Group Operations Doug Jackson said:

“We are continuing to investigate the feasibility of several pumped hydro project options in the Upper-Hunter Valley of NSW.”

“We will provide more details including scale, timing and process when the projects progress further.”

The idea is something that has been in the pipeline for some time and Fiona Plesman said AGL probably would have been looking into something like what Council is proposing.

“I imagine they would have been doing quite a bit of work in exploring a whole range of different power generation options but the fact of the matter is a few years ago Council looked at, in creating its community strategic plan; it decided to have a very strong focus on economic diversification and creating more jobs for the Muswellbrook shire,”

“So we’ve really thrown ourselves into looking at opportunities and facilitating development where we can.”

“Not developing because that is not our job.”

“At this stage this part of this tender process is where we are now letting the community know that we put out for a tender for the development of the pumped hydro facility, AGL has won that tender being the company with the greatest capacity and certainly a commitment to delivering this project,” concluded Fiona Plesman.

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse