THE closure of traditional power stations has led the state's peak agriculture representative body to call on cities to pull their weight when it comes to hosting renewable energy projects.
As more and more infrastructure developments such as solar and wind projects make their way to the regions, NSW Farmers Energy Transition Working Group chairman Reg Kidd is calling on metro areas to share the load to help preserve agricultural land.
"We've already seen a lot of regional areas become a home for renewables, but there's a limit to the amount we can build without losing valuable agricultural land," Mr Kidd said.
"The announced early closure of Eraring Power Station should be a wakeup call for Sydney, because there's going to need to be a lot more solar panels and wind turbines to take up the slack.
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"Since you lose a lot of power in transmission, it makes sense for it to be generated where it will be used.
"If we're serious about the energy transition, then we all need to do our part in generating electricity as close as possible to where it will be used."
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said NSW Agriculture Commissioner Daryl Quinlivan will conduct the review in an effort to ensure regional areas win out from renewable energy projects and will provide a final report later this year.
"The renewable energy and agricultural sectors are vital for the continued growth and prosperity of NSW. We need to make sure we capture as many of the opportunities they create for our regional communities as possible," Mr Kean said.
"The review will look at how the renewable energy sector helps to diversify farming income streams and create regional jobs, and consider any opportunities to improve existing frameworks, such as the coexistence of solar and wind with farming."
Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson said while he believed regional areas would continue to embrace renewable energy projects, it was crucial the bush saw long-term benefits from them.
"It is important to keep striving for the balance between agriculture and these projects but I think there should be more emphasis on getting the best economic outcomes for regional towns that host these projects," Cr Dickerson said.
"Usually, impacted landholders are given compensation and the rest of the community has a small fund to split amongst themselves, I'd like to see that situation improve.
"As well as that, I think it is important to try and ensure these projects create long-term jobs for country towns after the project is complete because at the moment there is usually a lot of jobs associated with construction which disappear once its complete."
NSW Agriculture Minister and Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders, who commissioned the review, said one of the reviews objectives was to ensure landholders understood the benefits of sectors expansion.
"This review will not only assess the issues and opportunities arising from the growth of renewable energy facilities on the farming sector, it will also address the benefits and challenges on housing supply, tourism, and workforce and labour issues in regional areas," Mr Saunders said.
"We know that the renewable energy industry is presenting a number of opportunities for landholders, including increased self-sufficiency and additional income streams. However, as a government, we need to make sure we're doing all we can to facilitate this diversification of businesses.
"Our big users of renewable energy - irrigators, dairy farmers, poultry producers and red meat manufacturers - need as much encouragement from governments as possible and I look forward to smashing barriers so they can to continue to thrive in this future-focused sector."
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