Power of­fer ‘ kick in guts’ Ni­cholls blasts south­east rate bias

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­DREW BACKHOUSE an­drew. back­house1@ news. com. au

THE LNP has slammed the State Gov­ern­ment’s plan to of­fer elec­tric­ity price dis­counts in south­east Queens­land, de­scrib­ing it as a “kick in the guts” for con­sumers in the North who would see no ben­e­fit.

Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk yes­ter­day an­nounced the gov­ern­ment- owned CS En­ergy would en­ter into a part­ner­ship with Alinta En­ergy in a bid to bring down prices.

The new ven­ture will of­fer a 25 per cent dis­count over two years to new cus­tomers in the En­ergex dis­tri­bu­tion area of the south­east of the state in the hope of forc­ing a price war.

But Op­po­si­tion leader Tim Ni­cholls said the plan showed the Gov­ern­ment was fo­cused on south­east Queens­land rather than the re­gions.

He said elec­tric­ity prices in re­gional Queens­land were set by the Queens­land Com­petit- ion Au­thor­ity and based on prices in the south­east cor­ner.

“( The an­nounce­ment) will have zero im­pact out­side of south­east Queens­land,” Mr Ni­cholls said. “The way the price is set, dis­counts aren’t taken into ac­count.

“In Townsville peo­ple are stuck with Er­gon and if they do want to change they can’t.”

Mr Ni­cholls said the LNP sup­ported con­struc­tion of a baseload coal- fired power sta­tion in North Queens­land.

He said it could be highly ef­fi­cient and in­clude car­bon cap­ture and stor­age tech­nol­ogy to re­duce emis­sions.

“That would put a down­wards pres­sure on elec­tric­ity prices,” he said.

Mr Ni­cholls said La­bor had taken its eye off the ball re­gard­ing Townsville.

“It’s a real kick in the guts for re­gional Queens­lan­ders that they won’t see the price come down,” he said.

La­bor’s Townsville MP Scott Ste­wart agreed the an­nounce­ment would not im­pact prices in North Queens­land.

But he spoke in sup­port of the State Gov­ern­ment’s $ 386 mil­lion Pow­er­ing North Queens­land plan to se­cure en­ergy sup­ply and drive down prices by un­lock­ing a wave of re­new­able en­ergy projects.

The in­vest­ment an­nounced in the State Bud­get is aimed at con­nect­ing so­lar, wind and hy­dro- elec­tric­ity projects to the en­ergy grid.

“We’re look­ing into the fu­ture. A coal- pow­ered sta­tion will cost $ 3 bil­lion and take 10 years to build,” he said. “We need to con­nect en­ergy sys­tems we have now. They are much quicker to build and will pro­vide the en­ergy we need.”

Mr Ste­wart sup­ported the cur­rent price struc­ture in which North Queens­land con­sumers had ac­cess to sub­sided en­ergy prices. “We have to make sure they ( en­ergy prices) are com­pa­ra­ble,” he said.

Tim Ni­cholls.

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