Tallying energy options
COMPETITION drives success. It also provides good outcomes for consumers.
In this light, it is impossible to side with Townsville hoteliers who are resisting plans for a new 4.5- star, 175- bed hotel to be developed alongside the new North Queensland Stadium.
They do, however, make some valid points on the need to increase visitor numbers to the city and for more events and venues like a new conference and convention centre.
The Townsville Major Accommodation Providers group raises unpalatable realities about market conditions in the region.
That Townsville has not sold out of hotel rooms on any given day in the past five years and reached only 60 per cent occupancy in the past year reflects the difficult conditions the city and its accommodation operators have endured.
The mining boom has come crashing back to earth, albeit with some recent recovery, and public spending on infrastructure has fallen off a cliff.
This has combined to deliver a king hit to the region’s economy.
But it is not an argument to put up the shutters and reject new development.
A luxury 4.5- star hotel alongside the stadium is just the ticket needed for recovery.
The fact that such a highly regarded hotel brand at Hilton Double Tree wants to take a position in the city is a positive sign for our future.
A hotel alongside the stadium is precisely what the city wants to achieve.
It is hoped the stadium can be the catalyst for more development on the many vacant sites around the city ripe for renewal and reuse.
The need for a clear and active events strategy to maximise use of the stadium is as plain as day.
The city also needs a new entertainment centre.
The Townsville City Council continues to push the case.
Refining a business case and identifying funding for a new entertainment centre is one of the key commitments of the intergovernmental Townsville City Deal.
The State Government also required consultants to submit a concept design and site plan including the provision for a future entertainment centre as part of the stadium design tender.
We need these concepts to be realised. ENERGY Minister Josh Frydenberg announced on July 14 that the COAG Energy Council had agreed to reforms designed to deliver more affordable and reliable electricity and lower emissions.
Key to that was the Generator Reliability Regulator which would require renewable energy providers to ensure an adequate level of backup to guard against blackouts.
Now, while these reforms seem mainly directed at the South Australian mess, there are real issues for North Queensland as well.
Like SA, we do not send energy into the National Grid, so the benefits we derive from being part of the grid are lessened.
The nation is now seeing base load generators reach the end of their lives and the cost of energy is spiking. In the North, we are witnessing the expansion of our solar generation at unprecedented rates. They say energy from the sun is free, but is it? This is where I believe we need more information.
This expansion of solar farms, massive in scale, has had no effect on our electricity bills to date.
These farms are subsidised by the taxpayer and yet we see our bills continue to rise.
Surely it is time to take a good hard look at what is happening.
It is our right to know what providers of the solar and other renewable energy are receiving and how these projects will affect our lives, before they start.
How will this affect the cost of our base load supply and cost?
How many ongoing jobs will be created with the development of these solar plants?
How much taxpayer money is being used here, and is that the best use for our benefit?
I have always believed our best energy future will be provided with a broad range of inputs ranging from base load through to home solar panels.
The Finkel Review is a good document and we should pay attention to the “Future Grid”.
That Future Grid speaks directly to our situation in North Queensland and Townsville.
It must, however, provide us with benefits and economic growth from that investment. Otherwise, what is the point?
By completing an audit on the renewable energy projects under construction, approved, and proposed, and marrying that to what it will mean to our energy outcomes and power bills for work and home, we can get the best possible result.
Simply getting another solar farm installed when our power prices continue to rise, and not have any long- term jobs provided as an outcome would be a tragedy for the north of our state.
If we get the plan right, we have a road forward with electricity prices heading down, more jobs and economic growth.
If we don’t get it right now, we will only have ourselves to blame. EWEN JONES, Mundingburra.