Opening a Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in New England is welcome but the timing of its development is critical to ensure NSW transitions from coal to renewables faster than is currently planned. 
The NSW Government has announced it will spend $79 million on planning to enable the $12.7 billion of potential investment in the New England Renewable Energy Zone to flows, but no timeline has been given.
The announcement says the delivery timetable to be developed during the detailed planning process.
Earlier this year, the state and federal government agreed to spend $2 billion underwriting new transmission lines linking new renewable projects to the national grid.
"Minister Kean is doing an admirable job of pulling the government in the right direction and increasing the pace of the transition from coal to clean energy, but there is still a question mark over whether that transition is happening fast enough,” Nature Conservation Council Acting Chief Executive Jacqui Mumford said.
"NSW has to end coal and gas power production by 2030 to play its part in limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees and yet the state still burns coal for more than three-quarters of its electricity.
"Under current arrangements, coal power will be phased out in NSW around 2050, which is far too late.
“The good news is that NSW has abundant wind and solar energy resources and the potential to be a clean energy superpower both domestically and internationally.
“The North-West Renewable Energy Zone will generate clean-energy jobs and economic activity that are badly needed after the bushfires, drought and covid.
“Now is not the time for opening up gas fields in Narrabri, when clean energy is ready to go.”
 New renewable energy zone to almost match NSW's coal-fired capacity, SMH, 10-7-20