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Turnbull to announce millions for Snowy Hydro project

Malcolm Turnbull at the Snowy Hydro power station in March. Photo: Alex EllinghausenPolitical Insider: Sign up for our newsletter
Nanjing Night Net

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to announce millions in extra funding for his pet project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, after visiting the power station on Monday morning.

The money will be spent on meeting some of the cost of the $29 million feasibility study and will come from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

It represents a major new investment from the federal government, which has only committed $500,000 so far to the project, despite Mr Turnbull frequently championing Snowy Hydro 2.0 as a game-changer for the east coast electricity market.

The announcement is due to be made in News Corp papers on Monday, but Fairfax Media has learnt the details ahead of time.

Mr Turnbull will attempt to focus on electricity prices and energy policy for the entire week ahead, in an attempt to shift focus away from the citizenship fiasco, which has dominated the political agenda for weeks and seen three members of the cabinet referred to the High Court because of questions over whether they were validly elected.

The feasibility study is due to be completed by the end of year; work is already under way on technical and drilling work and it will soon ramp up to be a 24-hour-a-day operation.

It is understood the Prime Minister, Snowy Hydro chief executive Paul Broad and ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht??? will tour the existing Tumut 2 underground power station and visit the company-owned town of Cabramurra.

They will then announce the extra funding for the study in the nearby town of Cooma.

The expansion of Snowy Hydro, which will conservatively cost at least $2 billion and which will take at least four years to complete, is designed to provide power for an extra 500,000 homes when finished.

The bill for the project could effectively double from $2 billion to $4 billion because of essential upgrades to power transmission lines into Melbourne and Sydney.

When completed, it will effectively function as a giant battery for the east coast electricity market and the new power station will have an estimated generation capacity of 2000 megawatts.

Cabramurra is owned by the Snowy Hydro and is home to workers on the Tumut 2 power station. Planning is already under way for a massive expansion of the town’s population when the study is completed and work on Snowy 2.0 project begins in earnest.

The new power station will be located much deeper underground – as much as one kilometre, compared to the Tumut 2 station, which is about 250 metres below ground.

ARENA began talks with Snowy Hydro about working on the project in February, about a month before the Prime Minister announced the project, and it is hoped the know-how the agency gains from working on Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be used on other pumped hydro storage projects.

The Commonwealth owns 13 per cent of the scheme, NSW 58 per cent and the Victorian government 29 per cent.

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