OPINIONS on the “new” Snowy Hydro Scheme in the MIA are split, with irrigators wanting more information on how it could possibly affect them.
The expansion of the Snowy scheme was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week to improve the state of the nation’s electricity capacity.
The government has said it won’t have an impact on supplied water for irrigators.
NSW Farmers board member Helen Dalton said irrigators had been calling out for a solution to high electricity prices.
“We have all of these efficiency schemes to save water, but it jacks up the amount of electricity and power being used and irrigators just can’t afford it out here,” she said.
“I think we are yet to see the detail in it … but it appears to be a good nation-building project.
“What we would like to see is another wall for Burrinjuck Dam to increase capacity.
“That should be a priority.
“What we also need is all the agencies to be working together to ensure there aren’t negative impacts for irrigators.
“All of these agencies should be working together all of the time as they used to do. This is a good nation-building project, but we hope there will be no adverse impacts for us out here.”
Mr Turnbull said the expansion would create thousands of engineering and construction jobs and have no impact on water supplied water to irrigators in NSW, South Australia and Queensland.
Gogeldrie irrigator Rob Houghton was also waiting for more information to come through from the government, but was hopeful there would be more transparency when it came to water.
“If there isn’t going to be an impact (on water and irrigators), it will hopefully be a positive thing,” he said.
Under the scheme, no new dams would be built, but a fresh series of tunnels and power stations are on the agenda, at an estimated cost of $1.5 to $2 billion.
A feasibility study should be completed by the end of 2017 and the search for expansions sites will led by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
Leeton mayor Paul Maytom said anything that would decrease electricity prices and cut prices for irrigators was a positive and should be looked at closely.
“I think it’s time for the blame game to stop in this area … it’s good to see the government start to do something in this area,” he said.
“We need ideas like this if we’re going to go forward as a nation.
“It’s critical, but it’s also important irrigators aren’t affected. They are saying they won’t be and we hope that is the case.”