The room was packed full of people and the presentations were packed full of facts.
Monday night at the Lithgow Workies saw the Lithgow Community Power Project host its first community discussion on Lithgow's Energy Future with special guest speakers Sebastien Roebben from Neoen and Prof Andrew Blakers from the Australian National University.
"It's pretty straight forward," said Prof Blakers, one of Australia's leading renewable energy researchers, "renewables can deliver electricity to consumers at prices that are lower than coal-fired power generation and this is slowly pushing coal out of the market."
Prof Blakers said that as coal-fire stations reach the end of their workings lives replacing them with incremental solar and wind generation is easier.
"While reductions in manufacturing costs and improvements in the power output from solar technology makes it cheaper," he said.
"None of this has happened overnight, it's taken decades for the renewables sector to get to this point, but now it has reached a critical mass and the impact and pace of change is staggering."
The good news for Lithgow is that like coal, renewable energy production is highly dependent on favourable local conditions.
Lithgow's proximity to high capacity transmission lines and relative abundance of sunshine and wind make it one of the country's most viable regions for investment in the development of renewable energy.
"These conditions mean the Federal seats of Calare and Hume could see up to $40 billion in investment over the next ten years," Prof Blakers said.
Asked why the investment seemed to be going to other regions being declared as Renewable Energy Zones or REZs, Project Manager and engineer Sebastian Roebben from Neoen said you need large consolidated tracts of land to build viable solar and wind farms.
"We can work with a single landowner, but not hundreds," he said.
"If that hurdle could be overcome by local landowners organising themselves into cooperatives, it would create opportunities for steady construction jobs during initial investment stages, followed by ongoing local operational and maintenance jobs.
"The long-term jobs are about 10 per wind farm project."
Neoen is constructing the Great Western Battery at Wallerawang. When built, it will be the largest battery in the Australia with a capacity of 500MW. The battery will make the Lithgow region more attractive for investment in renewables.
The evening ended on a philosophical note as Lithgow Community Power Project Convenor Greg Mortimer asked Lithgow City Council's new General Manager Craig Butler to provide some closing remarks.
"While I'm not in a position to talk about the merits of coal versus renewables, I do know that in amongst all this change we need to ask how does Lithgow fit in? What do we do next?" Mr Butler said.
"We all want a good future where our families can be sustained. That's clear. I think we now need to look at these new opportunities and start joining the dots to see how they can be made to work best for our community."
"There is a satisfaction that I've helped improve them in some way, of course it might not be life changing but hopefully I've been able to be something positive in their lives."
For those who missed the evening we are planning more in the future.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: