EnergyAustralia has released the Concept Design for its proposed Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro Project, outlining key details such as the upper reservoir design, site access roads, underground powerhouse, the switchyard and water intake location.

EnergyAustralia Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro Project Director, Michael de Vink, said that the Concept Design emphasises the company’s commitment to mitigating environmental, cultural heritage and other important impacts through site-sensitive design. 

“This includes changes made following consultation with the community and initial environmental studies,” Mr de Vink said. 

“The siting of key elements of the project takes advantage of the natural geography of the site to avoid visual impacts, mitigate environmental impacts and maintain lake recreational access for the community.

“The Concept Design allows us to plan further studies to assess the project’s environmental impact and supports our progress with more detailed engineering design work.

“It will also be a key feature of our ongoing community consultation program and provides additional detail to allow us to continue working with the Lithgow community. This includes opening a new community information centre on Main Street, Lithgow today.”

Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro Concept Design – Key Features: 

  • The upper reservoir location follows earlier community feedback and will not be visible from the majority of Lithgow with construction using rock sourced on Mt Walker
  • The powerhouse will be underground also reducing project visual and noise impacts
  • Parts of Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive are proposed to be widened and straightened to facilitate site access
  • A double-lane access road on land owned by EnergyAustralia on Mt Walker, shielded from view by the ridgeline, will provide access to the upper reservoir 
  • A diversion will be created for the upper arm of Farmers Creek to allow construction of the water intake and help avoid impacts on local platypus and fish
  • A permanent bridge to access the upper reservoir will be built across the diversion
  • The switchyard connecting to existing transmission lines will be located adjacent to the Farmer’s Creek diversion, largely shielded from view from Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive 
  • Excess material from the upper reservoir excavation and underground powerhouse will remain on Mt Walker, which will be revegetated to blend with the local environment
  • Excess material from excavating the powerhouse and tunnels will be used to infill a section of the lake to separate the water intake from Farmers Creek
  • Temporary accommodation for approximately 400 construction workers will be built in the Lithgow area, although EnergyAustralia is yet to decide on a location for the camp and is investigating possible locations on Magpie Hollow Road, Lake Lyell and Pipers Flat Road, Wallerawang. Community consultation will be involved prior to a final decision

“Our engagement with the Lithgow community has provided invaluable information and feedback to the project, and the plan released today provides additional detail to allow us to continue to consult and collaborate with them to optimise project elements and ensure that adverse impacts are minimised,”  Mr de Vink said.

“We are continuing to develop a road map for benefit-sharing to identify investments that can return meaningful benefits to the community, delivering on our commitment to build social licence and the future economic prosperity of the region.

“The next step for the project is more detailed assessments and continuing community engagement. For example, environmental studies are currently underway with findings to be included in the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment which is expected to be on public exhibition towards the end of next year.

“We are using experienced specialists to inform the design and assess the impacts of the project. For example, the University of NSW has been providing advice on measures to conserve populations of platypus.”  

Modifications to the Concept Design may be made to address environmental impacts identified during the environmental assessment program and in response to community feedback.

The Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro project is in the feasibility stage with a decision on proceeding likely in the second half of 2025. Construction would take at least four years. The 335MW project would provide energy for 150,000 homes for up to eight hours.

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