MORE than $15 million will go towards renewable power at Hunter Water treatment plants and pump stations in a bid to make the region's utility carbon neutral, the state government has announced.
Minister for Water, Property and Housing said the completion of a solar array at Branxton's wastewater treatment works was just the beginning of a project forecast to reduce Hunter Water's footprint by 7200 tonnes of emissions per year.
"This investment is all about innovation and supporting jobs in the Hunter while also reducing Hunter Water's electricity bill," Mrs Pavey said.
"The 100-kilowatt system at Branxton Wastewater Treatment Works is the first in Hunter Water's push for many solar projects, with savings generated helping to maintain affordable bills."
Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary said the 252 panels at Branxton were mounted to both the roof and the ground, and there was room to expand in future.
"Electricity is one of our major expenses, accounting for about 10 per cent of our operating costs and solar is one of a number of opportunities available that can help to reduce these costs, and reduce carbon emissions," Mr Cleary said.
"Once the program has been rolled out, we estimate an annual saving of $1.15 million on our electricity costs, which equates to a 7.37 per cent reduction.
"We are working with a shortlist of more than 20 priority sites as the initial focus of our solar rollout, including at Morpeth, Kurri Kurri, Raymond Terrace, and Boulder Bay Wastewater Treatment Works."
Mr Cleary said the project could ultimately include battery storage and floating solar as new technologies emerge.
"Our focus is on resource recovery with recycled water from the Wastewater Treatment Works piped to The Vintage Golf Club in Pokolbin and used on the adjacent Branxton public golf course to water greens and fairways," he said.
"Furthermore biosolids generated at the treatment plant are used to rehabilitate mine sites in the Hunter Valley with the fertiliser product helping to establish vegetation."
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