It’s a point of no re­turn

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

NORTH Queens­land res­i­dents and busi­nesses are in­creas­ingly strug­gling to find the ex­or­bi­tant amounts of money needed to pay ris­ing elec­tric­ity bills.

Our re­gion needs re­lief from the crush­ing bills that are leav­ing lo­cal fam­i­lies and busi­nesses strug­gling to pay for ev­ery­day ne­ces­si­ties such as putting a meal on the ta­ble.

The Min­er­als Coun­cil of Aus­tralia re­port, re­leased yes­ter­day, found that a high ef­fi­ciency low emis­sions ( HELE) coal­fired power plant would re­duce elec­tric­ity costs, and this is wel­come news to re­gions such as Townsville.

A HELE plant would not only in­crease ca­pac­ity and re­duce prices for North Queens­lan­ders but also help the na­tion achieve its emis­sions tar­gets.

By 2030, 8GW of coal plants are ex­pected to re­tire.

How­ever new- tech­nol­ogy plants would guar­an­tee the North’s en­ergy for decades to come, while re­duc­ing emis­sions.

The re­port found that if all ex­ist­ing coal plants in Aus­tralia were up­graded to HELE tech­nol­ogy, it would re­duce over­all emis­sions by 45 mil­lion tonnes a year.

It also ad­dresses the long- term op­por­tu­nity for vi­able car­bon cap­ture and stor­age op­tions ( CCS).

When paired with CCS, ul­tra su­per crit­i­cal black coal would cost be­tween $ 69 and $ 165 per MWh, and wind with USC and black coal would cost $ 88-$ 196.

No one is sug­gest­ing re­new­ables should not be part of Queens­land’s en­ergy fu­ture, but South Aus­tralia is a great ex­am­ple of what can hap­pen when rush­ing to lead the way trumps ba­sic eco­nomic com­mon sense.

The State Gov­ern­ment’s 50 per cent re­new­ables tar­get by 2030 can still be achieved if the North re­ceives its own coal- fired power plant.

One of our great­est nat­u­ral as­sets – coal – is just down the high­way.

The North is per­fectly si­t­u­ated to house a coal gen­er­a­tor, which would not only place down­ward pres­sure on elec­tric­ity prices but cut the re­gion’s transmission costs.

And with yet an­other re­port con­firm­ing that North Queens­land’s back­yard is well po­si­tioned for eco­nomic devel­op­ment, it’s time the State Gov­ern­ment stopped sidelin­ing the idea and made it a re­al­ity. be con­structed in two stages;

No fed­eral funds com­mit­ted to en­able con­struc­tion in one stage. Matched fund­ing would pro­vide 80+ year wa­ter se­cu­rity. We only have one chance to get this right;

Time­frame for un­re­solved land­holder agree­ments. UN­KNOWNS

Will the new steel pipe be con­crete- lined, which de­ter­mines flow and main­te­nance costs?

The task­force recommended that within 3- 15 years, an­other pipe­line will con­nect the new Haughton pipe­line to Clare with a 364ML/ day ca­pac­ity pump sta­tion at the site. Is the ex­ten­sion to Clare ( in Stage 2) the same as WFTAG’s Tom Fen­wick op­tion where there is al­ready a large pump sta­tion? There is, of course, no guar­an­tee of ad­di­tional state fund­ing in the fu­ture to carry out staged con­struc­tion.

What will coun­cil’s def­i­ni­tions for wa­ter se­cu­rity and wa­ter man­age­ment be and what pump­ing trig­ger? Even with a gold- plated pipe­line, not pump­ing to avoid Level 3 re­stric­tions would not pro­vide the se­cu­rity re­quired.

The state has re­leased a re­port into the Lower Bur­dekin Catch­ment Projects with con­cerns about the likely im­pact of an­other pipe- line on ground­wa­ter, salin­ity and wet­lands. Un­til the full re­port is avail­able we can­not com­ment on de­sign, route changes or de­lays;

Will the Pre­mier and LNP leader pub­licly pres­sure the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to match their fund­ing com­mit­ments? If not why not?

Will the task­force rec­om­mend that the state owns in­fras­truc­ture rather than coun­cil or pri­vate?

There is no ref­er­ence to need­ing a new $ 100m treat­ment plant.

Did the task­force rec­om­mend two- stage con­struc­tion start­ing with the al­ready de­signed TCC du­pli­cate and the equiv­a­lent state bud­get al­lo­ca­tion?

There is now an op­por­tu­nity for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to match state fund­ing. We are ad­vo­cat­ing a grant, not a NAIF loan, for the first ever City Deal’s top pri­or­ity of wa­ter se­cu­rity, not just as a sig­na­tory.

WFTAG’s ac­tivism will be di­rected at con­vinc­ing the Coali­tion that peo­ple in Townsville are await­ing, with elec­toral in­ter­est, the com­mit­ment of funds to al­low staged in­fras­truc­ture to be com­bined.

To this end, WFTAG needs to grow: 12,000 is great but 20,000+ is a much more audi­ble, cred­i­ble com­mu­nity voice. Call our hot­line, 0419 713 242, or join us on FB. We need to keep the wa­ter pres­sure on.

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