DE­VEL­OP­ING OUR RE­GION AS AUS­TRALIA'S EN­ERGY CAP­I­TAL

Pos­si­ble 3000MW of so­lar projects in pipe­line around Western Downs re­gion

Dalby Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Western Downs is po­ten­tially star­ing down the bar­rel an­other 3000 megawatts of re­new­able en­ergy in­vest­ment in the next five years, ac­cord­ing to the mayor, Paul McVeigh.

Com­pare that to the 550MW spread across four cur­rently-ap­proved so­lar projects and you can see why the coun­cil is ex­cited about the next chap­ter in the re­gion’s en­ergy boom.

“That means we have a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of so­lar projects that are in the pipe­line and will come on­line over the next five years,” Cr McVeigh said.

He was speak­ing to a room filled with peo­ple at the Year Ahead busi­ness break­fast or­gan­ised by Chin­chilla Com­mu­nity Com­merce and In­dus­try on Tues­day morn­ing.

“What’s re­ally ex­cit­ing about this is that the coal seam gas in­vest­ment which has en­abled and driven the move to re­new­ables was largely un­fore­seen.

“If we think back 13 to 15 years when the wave of the coal seam gas in­dus­try power gen­er­a­tion came on, no one thought I would be stand­ing up here be­fore you, talk­ing about the green en­ergy wave that’s com­ing af­ter that.

“We couldn’t have pre­dicted that coal seam gas in­vest­ment and the as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture would have en­abled us to move to cost-ef­fec­tive and re­li­able re­new­able power gen­er­a­tion.

“Learn­ing from that sce­nario... we are now ask­ing the ques­tion: what will the in­vest­ment in re­new­able en­er­gies lead to in the fu­ture?

“We’ve trade­marked the En­ergy Cap­i­tal of Queens­land so I think we need to at least start call­ing our­selves the En­ergy Cap­i­tal of Aus­tralia.”

Cr McVeigh said the se­cret to at­tract­ing large, multi-mil­lion dol­lar so­lar projects was the abil­ity to fast-track ap­provals.

“While other coun­cils might take up to a year to ap­prove projects, we’ve ap­proved four in the last six months,” he said.

“The lat­est ap­proval – the an­nounce­ment at last month’s coun­cil meet­ing of the Lu­mi­nous En­ergy 300MW Colum­boola project – was signed off in just seven weeks, and that was over the Christ­mas pe­riod as well.”

Pro­vid­ing cer­tainty to com­pa­nies was key.

“It shows them we are se­ri­ous,” he said. “This cer­tainty we are pro­vid­ing the com­pa­nies makes a huge dif­fer­ence when they are choos­ing where to place their in­vest­ments.”

I think we need to at least start call­ing our­selves the En­ergy Cap­i­tal of Aus­tralia. — Mayor Paul McVeigh

PHOTO: MATTHEW NEW­TON

EX­CITED: WDRC Mayor Paul McVeigh speaks at the CCCI Year Ahead busi­ness break­fast at the Chin­chilla Palms Restau­rant on Tues­day morn­ing.

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