Vic faces sum­mer power re­stric­tions if drought con­tin­ues

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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.’’

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