An exclusive agreement with Bettergrow to assess opportunities to repurpose the decommissioned Wallerawang power station in Lithgow has been extended to June 2019.
“Over the past month Bettergrow has demonstrated why it’s the frontrunner to continue Wallerawang’s 60-year history,” EnergyAustralia Head of Mt Piper Greg McIntyre said.
“We’re really excited by the potential to transform Wallerawang into an industrial hub, as Bettergrow has done with disused mines and industrial sites in the past.
“Handing over the keys is a complex transaction and we are all working hard to make it a reality.”
Mr McIntyre said the extension would allow negotiations to continue and for Bettergrow to continue to develop its plans. Arrangements will be reviewed again in June, and may be renewed on a recurring basis until a final investment decision can be made.
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“Everything we’ve done behind the scenes with deconstruction and salvaging work to get the old Wallerawang plant ready for new industry is beginning to pay off,” he said.
Bettergrow managing director Neil Schembri said Wallerawang has terrific potential as a “green-spot” eco-industrial park that Lithgow and the broader region can be proud of and benefit from financially.
“We see this being home to our operations and shared with other sustainable businesses,” Mr Schembri said.
“For this to work we will retain the majority of the plant’s existing infrastructure rather than it all being demolished.”
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Eco-industrial parks traditionally operate in co-operation, with one company’s by-product becoming an important resource to one or several others.
“Establishing a rail-link and intermodal freight hub will be developed in the first stage to transport materials and reduce the number of trucks travelling on Castlereagh and Great Western highways each day.”
Bettergrow dates back around 40 years, previously belonging to Neil’s parents at Vineyard, New South Wales, before he took over in 1978 and expanded the business along Australia’s east coast.
The Wallerawang site covers around 70 hectares and offers a rail siding and high-voltage electricity connection. EnergyAustralia closed the plant in 2014 in an oversupplied wholesale market to focus fuel and resources to the newer and more efficient Mount Piper station.