Excavation works are due to begin near Tantangara Dam in “four to five weeks,” Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad told federal politicians on Tuesday.
At the Senate Estimates regarding government plans for Snowy Hydro, Mr Broad said the feasibility study for the upcoming Snowy 2.0 expansion was “in full swing.”
“We’re at a stage now where we’re looking at putting boring machines in the mountains to test the geology, particularly where the station will be built nearly a kilometre underground,” he said.
“We’ll have them in in the next four to five weeks, once we finalise the approval process with National Parks.”
The $29 million feasibility study will look at the most viable expansion proposal, the techniques necessary to drill through the Snowy Mountain range, the environmental and social impact, and a more precise estimated cost based on those factors. The upcoming works will begin filling in those knowledge gaps – particularly the cost.
“The key issue that will determine [cost] is the geology, which will determine the construction methodology,” said Mr Whitby.
“We have surface geology, but the purpose of the next phase is to do exploratory works – and that’s the point of doing the feasibility study.”
They have already guaranteed that there will be no impact on water flow, something that was reiterated at the Senate Estimates. Senate Estimates are a yearly process that follow the Federal budget, where Senators have the opportunity to question relevant stakeholders before they decide how they will vote on budget proposals.
It was also revealed on Tuesday’s session with Mr Broad and Mr Whitby that the Snowy Hydro upgrade will also require a major upgrade of the transmission lines that ferry the electricity generated to major centres – Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Whitby said that would cost $1 to $2 billion, but that it was the responsibility of private company Transgrid, who have already begun their own feasibility study in regards to upgrading the poles and wires.
Mr Broad also said the four-year construction phase cited by the Prime Minister may have been a little optimistic.
“The four year figure refers to what would happen if everything went your way,” said Mr Broad.
“The preliminary work we’re doing seems to show the rock type may present some challenges to us, so it’s probably more like the five to six year mark.”