Vic faces summer power restrictions if drought continues
THE Victorian Government has not ruled out voluntary power restrictions this summer as the drought takes its toll on the state’s electricity generators.
The National Generators Forum (NGF) has warned Victorian power supplies could be under threat unless the big dry breaks.
The Latrobe Valley’s coal-fired power stations in eastern Victoria supply 85 per cent of the state’s power. But they need 140 billion litres of water each year to operate.
Opposition energy and resources spokesman Robert Clark says the Government has failed to secure the state’s water supply and voluntary power restrictions would be tough to swallow.
‘‘ Victorians are already suffering from water shortages and public transport shortages due to poor planning by the Bracks and Brumby Governments. The last thing Victorians want is power restrictions over summer,’’ he said.
There was also a ‘‘ real risk’’ of price hikes if power shortages put pressure on wholesale electricity prices, he said.
Deputy Premier Rob Hulls would not say whether power restrictions were a possibility.
He said the Government was doing all it could to safeguard the state’s electricity supply.
‘‘ We can’t make it rain, obviously. We all hope it rains, but as a Government we can’t make it rain, but we’re certainly in discussions with power companies over supplies,’’ Hulls said.
‘‘ I’m not going to pre-empt those types of issues (restrictions), save to say that the Government will continue to have discussions with power companies in relation to security of supply.’’
Clark says power companies are in limbo after a proposal to pump recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant to the Latrobe Valley ‘‘ went down the drain’’.
The project was not included in the Government’s $4.9 billion plan to drought-proof the state, announced in June. But the Government is further investigating the option.
‘‘ We now don’t know where that plan is going. We don’t know what the Brumby Government is planning to ensure Victoria’s generators have adequate water supply,’’ Clark said.
‘‘ The Brumby Government (and) the Bracks Government have known for a long time of the looming drought. They failed to put in place sufficient dams, sufficient desalination plants . . . they mustn’t fail again and not provide the water supplies our power stations will need over summer.’’