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PM unveils "game changing" expansion of Snowy Hydro scheme

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The iconic Snowy Hydro scheme will get a $2 billion expansion in what has been labelled a game changer for east coast power supply.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will visit the area today to unveil the plan which will include three new tunnels stretching 27km and power stations – but no new dams.

It’s expected the new project – the first major expansion since the scheme was completed in 1974 – will increase power output by 50 per cent, enough to power 500,000 homes.

“The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages. It will enable greater energy efficiency and help stabilise electricity supply into the future,” Turnbull said ahead of the announcement.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg confirmed the price tag will be in the billions of dollars.

“The amount of new power we’re talking about here will be bigger than the Hazelwood power plant which is scheduled to close at the end of this month, ” he told ABC radio.

“So this is a game changing announcement, something that is iconic in Australia and I think it should be welcomed by all Australians.”

A feasibility study will get underway as soon as possible, he said.

Snowy Hydro managing director Paul Broad said the announcement was a big leap forward in keeping the lights on along the eastern part of the country.

“If fulfils a dream of our forefathers,” he told ABC radio.

Broad said when demand was high on February 10, it was effectively Snowy keeping the lights on in NSW.

Already four sites have been identified for the expansion, but each will have to be examined for their geological and economic impacts.

He hopes the public will embrace the new plan, which will create more jobs in the area especially during the construction phase.

– AAP

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