New federal energy policy puts CQ coal-fired power on the radar
CAPRICORNIA MP Michelle Landry has seized on the new federal government energy policy announcement to push her coal agenda.
There are a number of differing political perspectives regarding the future implications of the new plan for people in Central Queensland.
The new policy, called the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), was unveiled on Tuesday promising a reliable supply of power, emissions reductions and savings for Australian's power bills.
The NEG would force electricity companies to have a certain amount of dispatchable power in reserve to be switched on when required, to prevent blackouts caused by intermittent supplies of renewable energy.
Controversially, the government abandoned the recommended Clean Energy Target (CET), opting instead to use NEG to compel energy retailers to buy enough clean power to meet Australia's commitment to the Paris climate change agreement.
Ms Michelle Landry, like the rest of us, was still getting her head around policy today but believes it would be good for Central Queensland "because it's about making sure that the energy is right, right across the country".
She stands by the figure quoted by economics experts who forecast a $115 average reduction in retail prices if the government's plan was implemented.
"It will be a mix obviously of solar, wind, coal, gas, batteries and pumped hydro," Ms Landry said.
"Gas and coal will be heavily relied on with this.
"With the retailers having to ensure they have enough dispatchable energy from the mix, including coal, gas and pumped hydro, it will be good news for Central Queensland as this is expected to encourage them to invest in reliable energy sources such as coal and extend the life of existing coal-fired power plants."
Ms Landry said both she and the Turnbull Government always supported the coal industry and she was continuing to push for a coal-fired power station for Central or North Queensland.
"Reducing the wholesale price is the first step and that involves ensuring there is an abundance of supply - shutting down large coal-fired generators only pushes prices up," she said.
"While we would need a change of state government, I believe this new policy would provide far more certainty to those considering investing in new HELE Coal-fired power stations.
"Greater generation capacity would help lower prices."
Ms Landry said the government's plan places a huge emphasis on reliability and will include provisions to see that necessary production capacities are maintained "so we avoid the unnecessary blackouts of South Australia and those forecast for Queensland this summer".
She said the policy took a stand against Labour party ideology "where too much production had been taken out of the network by Labor state governments more interested in reaching green targets than in providing reliable, affordable electricity to their citizens".
"When Central Queenslanders want to turn the lights on or cook dinner they care far less about where the power comes from and far more about the need for it to be there," Ms Landry said.
Labor Senator Murray Watt said scrapping the CET will drive up regional power prices and posed a grave threat to the growing renewable energy industry, that supports vital jobs in our regions.
"According to the Government's own analysis, their new policy is expected to deliver far less renewable investment than would occur if we had no national energy policy at all," Mr Watt said.
"For months, Mr Turnbull has been telling Australians that a CET, recommended by his own chief scientist, was the best way to reduce power prices and his failure to get it through his party room, means regional Queenslanders will pay more."
Mr Watt said investment in renewable projects, like solar, not only benefits our environment, it creates jobs, lowers power prices and puts money into our regional economies.
He pointed to the federal government's own renewable energy agency ARENA website which said "regional economies in particular will benefit from the growing big solar industry, with 2,300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by the large-scale solar projects funded through ARENA's competitive round".
Mr Watt said government support for renewable sector created 100s of jobs for regional Queenslanders including 500 jobs at the Kidston Solar Farm, 200 jobs at the Whitsunday Solar Farm, 175 jobs at the Barcaldine Solar Farm, 120 jobs at the Collinsville Solar Power Station, 50 jobs at the Oakey Solar Farm and 30 jobs at the Longreach Solar Farm.
Queensland's Minister for Energy Mark Bailey said Ms Landry had her basic facts wrong.
"Electricity supply increased under the Palaszczuk Government, not decreased," Mr Bailey said.
"We're bringing back Swanbank E, the second largest gas power station in the country, we're seeing a gigawatt of renewables coming in over the next 18 months from renewables.
"So we're actually seeing a massive increase in supply of energy infrastructure in Queensland and that's why we have the lowest wholesale energy prices in the country, in a broken national electricity market."
Mr Bailey said they were seeing a massive investment in renewable energy in Queensland adding to the traditional base-load infrastructure.
"It is well known that Queensland has the most powerful energy system in the country," he said.
"Because we've kept it in public ownership and we're adding the cheapest form of new energy infrastructure to make it the most secure grid in the country.
"Which is great, the more supply we've got, the more pressure that puts on the price and that's why we've got, by far, the lowest increase in any mainland state this year of retail power prices at 3%."
Mr Bailey was skeptical of Ms Landry's claim the NEG would take $115 off the average household bill.
"The Turnbull government confirmed that they had not done any detailed modelling to back up their claims, I want to see something that proves it to be the case," he said.