Let’s Recap Snowy Hydro’s Buckwild August

Is there anything more sexy than Australia’s Snowy Hydro scheme? Yes, a tonne of things. However, just because the Snowy Hydro isn’t a Tim Tam wearing lingerie, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. 

The Snowy Hydro scheme is a hydroelectricity complex that turns moving water into renewable power. According to Snowy Hydro Limited, they produce 4500 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity each year. What’s more, once Snowy 2.0 is completed, this company claims that their new facilities will power around 3 million homes every week. 

In August, Snowy Hydro Limited has been in the news for a myriad of reasons. Some good, and some yikes. So let’s dive into why this important institution has been making a splash in the headlines.

The Snowy Hydro Slay

It’s official, Snowy Hydro Limited is getting a sustainability glow-up. On August 21, they formally agreed to purchase 40% of the energy generated by TagEnergy’s Golden Plains project. Golden Plains is an onshore wind farm being built in Victoria’s Rokewood.

This agreement slaps for several reasons. First off, it means that Snowy Hydro Limited is diversifying its renewable-based portfolio, which will make the company more sturdy. It also means that TagEngery doesn’t have to pin its operations on the whims of Australia’s volatile power market. 

One person who’s rather stoked with this agreement is Snowy Hydro’s CEO, Dennis Barnes.

“Our partnership with TagEnergy is a significant step in supporting the decarbonisation of the National Electricity Market and further enabling Australia’s transition to renewables,” Barnes said.

Construction of TagEnergy’s $2 billion turbines kicked off in April of 2023. Additionally, this project is expected to be completed by 2025’s quarter one.

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 Blunder

When you’re trying to save the environment with renewables, it’s important that you don’t destroy the environment in the process. This, unfortunately, brings us to one of Snowy Hydro Limited’s contractors, WeBuild. 

In August, WeBuild was fined $15,000 for allowing 9000 litres of sediment-laden water to enter NSW’s Yarrangobilly River. This action took place while WeBuild was constructing a section of the Snowy Hydro 2.0. According to the ABC, this is the third Snowy Hydro fine that WeBuild has recently received. 

All three of these fines have been handed down by the NSW’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA). When discussing WeBuild’s latest fine, their Executive Director, Steve Orr, had some choice words to say.

“The state’s environment laws have strict requirements in place to protect delicate ecosystems and waterways from pollution,” noted Orr.

“The community expects all licensees to operate and maintain their equipment in such a manner to prevent pollution incidents. The environment around these local waterways in the Kosciuszko National Park contain highly specialised plants, animals, and microorganisms and is home to a number of endangered species, including the Booroolong Frog.”

As it stands, Snowy Hydro Limited hasn’t made a public statement regarding this fine. But the same can’t be said about WeBuild.

“There was no downstream impact beyond natural variability to the Yarrangobilly River as a result of this incident,” WeBuild said.

“In addition, we have since undertaken reviews of the event to identify the cause and mitigate the risk of any recurrences.”

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