Dubbo's housing, health and infrastructure could get a massive boost thanks to a multi-million dollar funding injection.
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NSW energy minister Penny Sharpe said communities in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) will receive $128 million over the next four years to deliver community projects and employment opportunities.
"The transformation of our electricity system is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to foster long-term prosperity in our regional communities which are central to the government's roadmap," Ms Sharpe told media in Dubbo on Friday, October 20.
"This funding will ensure the communities hosting the Central-West Orana REZ start receiving benefits well before construction begins.
"The NSW Government will work with local communities and councils to ensure they have a say about how funding is allocated, so projects reflect community priorities."
In the next six months the government will be working closely with local councils, community groups, renewable energy companies and other stakeholders to identify and fund community priorities and legacy programs in the region.
"As we build this renewable energy zone, it is going to be something that we are seeking to work on and jointly design with the community," Ms Sharpe said.
"There'll be money for councils, there will be money for community organisations and there'll be money for first nations organisations as well."
The types of projects that could be funded include:
The fund will be administered by NSW EnergyCo with upfront funding coming from the Transmission Acceleration Fund. After 2028 it will be funded through access fees paid by renewable energy generators in the Central-West Orana REZ.
Eventually the funding program will be expanded to the other four REZs in NSW; New England, South West, Hunter-Central Coast and Illawarra.
"If we get this right we can get to the end of this project and not only have the renewable energy zone that the state and locals can benefit from but we'll also have these projects," Ms Sharpe said.
"We'll have better housing, we'll have really strong first nations organisations with their own businesses and pathways into work... The opportunities are really high here.
"The $128 million over four years is just the beginning."
Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders said he welcomes the funding announcement but acknowledges the Renewable Energy Zone is still "causing concerns for residents in the region".
"Something I have been talking about as the Local Member since I was first made aware of the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone, is the need to involve a legacy fund that would stimulate all parts of the community, so I welcome the injection of the first $128m from the government," he said.
"I have always been open about the fact that we must make the community a part of this process, which would involve going from property to property and looking at the cumulative effects of wind, solar, and transmission lines.
"I have reminded the minister again today of the importance of this, and I remain focused on ensuring the proper consultation is carried out."
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