Monday, October 10, 2022

Oaky Hydro Electric site for sale


Essential Energy has placed the 214ha Oaky Hydro site on the market. The sales pitch suggests that there is a 2,700 ML dam restoration opportunity with a Hydropower Station connected to the network with a 8.2 km frontage to Oaky River.

The Commercial Real Estate advertisement for the sale (here) includes a range of photographs, while  a 19 September 2022 story by Caroline Riches, Oaky River hydro site offers rare opportunity provides additional information. 

During the 1950s, Albanian civil engineer Zihni Buzo designed and oversaw the implementation of the dam and hydropower scheme here, which supplied renewable energy to the local area from 1956 until 2013, when severe flooding burst the banks and damaged the infrastructure. The Wayback Machine includes the report on the events surrounding the flood event of 23 February 2013. The damage was never repaired.  

Zihni, father to playwright Alex Buzo, was a visionary man who saw the Oaky Scheme as a first step in broader hydro and water development including pumped hydro. While the scheme was not large by today's standards it was all very exciting. Aunt Margaret worked in the Thiess office, Thiess were handling constriction, while Zihni took us all to the site to show us the works in progress. 

The costs of construction added to power bills. By the time of the abolition of the county councils in 1995, the amortisation of the original costs by the New England County Council was flowing through in below average electricity prices. These gains now vanished. I have always felt, perhaps wrongly, that the the troubles that befell Oaky were one of the collateral costs of the 1955 Sydney electricity heist. Perhaps now we might see the scheme reborn.