Snowy 2.0 gets go ahead for main works

Phil and Yvette Owers of National Cranes and Engineering found themselves in the spotlight on Thursday, hosting the big announcement from Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Snowy 2.0 executives.

Snowy 2.0 has the green light from the NSW Government to begin Main Works, which CEO Paul Broad described as “another major milestone for Snowy 2.0 and clear evidence that the project was progressing full steam.”

The official announcement was made Thursday morning by Deputy Premier John Barilaro at National Cranes and Engineering on Thursday morning. The Federal Government is expected to follow suit. Mr Broad was unable to make the announcement, instead circling overhead in a plane which was unable to land due to fog. He was instead represented by Snowy Hydro Relations Manager Dean Lynch. 

“This is a turning point for this region, after some tough times,” said Mr Lynch. “Snowy Hydro has a proud history and I’m proud to be here on behalf of Paul Broad. This project has definitely been led from the top.

“From here on, it’s just all good things.”

Mr Lynch’s comments echoed statements from Wagga MP Joe McGirr, who touched on the tragic year, and recent week, experienced in the Snowy Valleys.

“We have been really whacked this year by bushfires and then Covid,” said Dr McGirr, “Now, we are picking ourselves up.

“This is about hope and about jobs.”

Dr McGirr spoke of ensuring that there would be adequate training in the Snowy Valleys to ensure that local people are able to find work on the project, with an estimated 2000 jobs expected to be created and $4.6 billion injected into regional NSW with this week’s announcement.

“It’s great to get the green light,” said Snowy Valleys Major James Hayes as he shivered through the foggy morning. “I’m very happy for the community. It’s great to have some positive news at the end of a pretty bleak week.”

Promising a focus on local hire and local contractors, the announcement was staged at Phil and Yvette Owers’ business headquarters. 

“Snowy’s great, I love Snowy,” said Mr Owers with a grin.

“I’ve worked on every station in the Snowy scheme and also some coal-fueled in Muswellbrook and Traralgon, and they’re really dirty, it’s like bushfire soot,” he added. 

“Because Snowy’s hydro, working for them is so clean. The whole power station is clean. It’s a pleasure to work for them.

“For as long as I can remember, since I was a kid, it’s always been an awesome thing to come visit Snowy Hydro dams. Now, being a part of it, it’s like being a part of history.

“We’re creating more history with this Snowy 2.0.”

The project involves the construction of 27 kilometres of tunnels between the Talbingo and Tantangara Reservoirs, lined with 130,500 concrete segments manufactured locally in Polo Flat.

Once complete, the project will add 350 gigawatt hours of energy storage and 2000 megawatts of generation capacity to the State’s grid – enough to power 500,000 homes during peak demand – and play a major role in the National Electricity Market (NEM) by facilitating the development of renewable energy and putting downward pressure on electricity prices. 

Local business owner Matt Lucas of the Coffee Peddlar said the investment would have “flow-on” benefits for businesses in the area which aren’t even in the construction or energy industries.

“It’s really good given the timber industry is slowing up, it’s a great thing for us,” said Mr Lucas, adding that he’s had a coffee van stationed at Lob’s Hole, operating seven days a week to support the work in that area.

“My grandfather and great uncle worked on the original Snowy. It’s great to be a part of this from a family perspective. There’s that link.”

Mr Lucas also referenced the executives and politicians visiting Tumut this week and the money they were spending in town, booking accommodation and buying their morning coffees at his shop.

Matt Lucas, Gerard Webb, Lynne Withers and Natalie Randall said they are looking forward to the economic boost Snowy 2.0 will bring to the region, both directly and through “flow-on” effects.

“Even if you’re not directly involved, there’s a flow-on effect,” he said.

“There is a real focus for them to secure local business and local jobs,” added Natalie Randall, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Principal at MiQ Private Wealth.

During the official announcement, Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the new works would spur government investment in the Snowy Valleys, with an increased demand for infrastructure and education putting the region on the political funding map.

To date, more than 500 people are working on the project as part of the Exploratory Works which were approved 12 months ago. There will also be $100 million in offsets to be invested in conservation and recreational projects in Kosciuszko National Park, which Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said would benefit the local environment.

“For a small and temporary construction footprint covering just 0.1% of the park, Snowy 2.0 will deliver 2000MW of clean energy and large-scale energy storage to support many other wind and solar projects coming online,” said Mr Broad in a written statement.

“We have been operating in Kosciuszko National Park for more than 70 years and we are committed to seeing it left in better shape for future generations.”