working collaboratively with community

An integral part of our project development is working collaboratively with the community, to inform and shape the development of the Project.


The land around Yetholme, the closet community to the Project, is dotted with homes, farms and hills. It’s these undulating hills that make it an ideal location for a pumped hydro facility, where elevation between the upper and lower reservoir is needed to store and create energy.  

The land that the Project will be built on has been carefully selected after assessing a number of other potential sites.  

Apart from the natural elevation, the site is also close to major transmission lines, which helps make the cost of transporting the electricity we provide to the broader network more affordable.

While we need to build some additional transmission lines to connect to the grid – about 7 kms worth – we intend to put these lines underground to lessen the Project’s visual and ecological impact. The site that has been selected is located on private land, some 25km south-east of Bathurst and 4km south-south-west of Yetholme. When completed, the Project stretch across  180 hectares of cleared and partially cleared land.

We are respectful of the land and what it means to so many in the community. As part of the ongoing design phase and approvals required for the Project, we have consulted with many different groups and have undertaken environmental and heritage surveys to lessen the impact to the surrounding environment and minimise any vegetation disruption.

As a part of this process, the design of the upper reservoir has been altered to use as much land already cleared as possible and to avoid disturbing a threatened ecological community. Consultation with the local community will be ongoing across these early stages of the Project and continue should it move into construction.

The EIS provides information on the economic, environmental, and social impacts of the project. It helps the community, government agencies and the approval authority make informed submissions or decisions on the project.

The Environmental Impact Statement

Building a pumped hydro facility is a big deal. In fact, the New South Wales Government consider it to be a  ‘State Significant Development’. This means that before construction can begin, a number of preparatory steps, assessments and authorisations need to occur. One of these is the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The EIS for the Central West Pumped Hydro Project covers 14 assessment areas to ensure all possible impacts are considered.. Assessment is done via desktop research, surveys onsite, and through consultation with the community and the government.

The EIS for the Project is in the process of being finalised. Once finished, it will be submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, reviewed and then made available for the public to comment on. We aim to have the EIS submitted early 2023.

Why do we need pumped hydro storage?

All types of storage projects are an important facilitator of renewable energy generation.

Storage acts as an essential intermediary between renewables and consumers. It shifts renewable generation from the time of day it is generated to the time of day when it is consumed.

This allows us to use renewable energy to service more and more of our daily energy needs - even when the sun is not shining, or when the wind is not blowing.

Storage comes in a few forms, but we need investment in all types; namely ones that are efficient over short timeframes, like batteries, and ones that are efficient over longer duration, like pumped hydro.

What about water in a drying environment?

In Australia, water is a precious commodity, no matter where you live, and ATCO is highly aware of the need for water security in our regional communities.

After the Project becomes operational it will require up to 400 megalitres (ML) annually to replace water lost through evaporation and seepage. It’s important to know that this water will be sourced from existing water licences in the area, so it will not be an additional burden on the Fish River.

The amount of water used by the Project will be closely monitored, and we will be required to meet strict licence condition to ensure we do not exceed our allocated allowance.

If the level of flow in the Fish River dips below the strict limits in our licence conditions- which might occur during longer term dry periods or drought - then we do not pump. This ensures that we have minimal impact on environmental flows, downstream water users and the Bathurst town water supply in all conditions.

At all times, the well-being of our local communities is a priority for us.

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