Last year Andrew Blakers took a look at the Goulburn area and liked what he saw.
Professor Blakers is a professor of engineering at the Australian National University and his main focus in recent years has been on a 100 per cent renewable energy future for Australia.
When he did his study the NSW Government was establishing renewable energy zones (REZs) around the state as a means of attracting investment to replace coal-fired power.
The government calls them modern-day power stations, bringing together renewable energy generation, storage such as batteries and high voltage poles and wires.
"The Goulburn district and the electorate of Hume is one of the most prospective renewable energy zones in Australia."
The main reasons are that we are close to the huge electricity market of Sydney, we have plenty of sun and wind, we are in a good area for transmission and there are extensive opportunities for pumped hydro projects - where water is pumped up a hill during the day using renewable energy and flows down the hill through turbines at night to generate electricity.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the independent body that manages energy use in Australia, agrees: it has identified the Southern Tablelands as one of nine potential REZs in NSW.
Blakers estimated an REZ in our area could result in at least 10 gigawatts of renewable energy - enough to power about 4m homes - and as much as 30GW.
It could attract private investment of anywhere between $15 billion and $50 billion over the next two decades.
That's billions with a "b".
Unfortunately, we missed out.
The NSW government has announced five REZs - in the central-west around Dubbo; New England; south-west around Wagga and Hay; Hunter-Central Coast; and Illawarra.
If you think Blakers' figures sound too good to be true, consider this. The first REZ to go ahead is in the central-west, where the government is planning to generate 3GW of electricity. It received bids from the private sector for 27GW worth $38 billion.
As a result the government has increased its contribution from $9m to $41m and has announced that the next REZ in the queue, New England will be for 8GW.
That could have been us.
Community groups such as The Goulburn Group and Community Voice for Hume are pushing to take advantage of such opportunities. But it needs political leadership.
Our local federal MP, Angus Taylor, has the credentials to provide it as a senior member of the Morrison government and the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction. But he keeps looking the other way.
Together with the rest of the government, he is supporting a gas-led recovery from the COVID-19 recession. That was the recommendation from a government-established task force and commission, both of which had members with significant interests in the gas industry.
She refused. Taylor confirmed that a conversation had taken place but said no "undue pressure" had been exerted on AEMO.
Four Corners also reported that the head of Taylor's department urged Kerry Schott, who is at the helm of the Energy Security Board, another independent body, to resign after she also refused to support the government's emphasis on gas.
Taylor denies that happened, while Schott says the conversation was private and added she was always under pressure. Readers can draw their own conclusions from the political speak.
The problem is that Taylor is always a decade or more behind the action.
Eight years ago, our newly elected MP was speaking out loudly against wind farms, even though they are an important means of tackling climate change and have created jobs and supported businesses in our region.
As Minister for Energy, he was arguing for a new coal-fired power station - if necessary paid for by the government - as our energy future.
Having abandoned that idea, he has turned to the gas-led recovery including, you guessed it, government intervention to build a gas plant if the private sector won't step up. It is all so yesterday.
Twenty or even 10 years ago, there was an argument that gas could be a transition fuel on the path to a renewable energy economy.
Now renewables are much cheaper, gas is uncompetitive and too polluting, storage through batteries and other means has improved out of sight and the climate change emergency is greater than ever.
Rather than spruiking the fossil fuels the rest of the world is abandoning, Mr Taylor should be offering leadership to take advantage of the enormous opportunities in renewable energy available to Australia, including in our region.
Otherwise he risks becoming a stranded political asset, just as coal and gas are becoming stranded economic assets.
As his Liberal colleague, the NSW Minister for Energy Matt Kean put it: "Those people defending old technologies are the equivalent of defending Blockbuster in a Netflix world."