LNP divided on funding coal-fired power station construction
IN THE lead up to October's state election, the state LNP and Labor Parties have found surprising common ground in their preference to fund renewable energy projects rather than paying to build a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland.
This state LNP position runs contrary to the views of their federal counterparts including Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd who fought hard to secure a $3.3 million feasibility study examining the viability of using tax payer money to underwrite the power station's construction.
Addressing an energy forum hosted by environmental groups last Thursday, Queensland Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart made clear his party's opposition to the state government providing taxpayer funding to a 1GW High Energy Low Emissions power plant proposed for Collinsville, 250km south of Townsville.
"The LNP is not proposing for any government investment for a new coal-fired power station. Let's just rule a line through that straight away," Mr Hart said.
Expanding on Mr Hart's statement, the LNP's Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dale Last said the LNP went to the 2017 election with a policy to support private sector investment in new baseload power generation by fast tracking regulatory approvals and that position had not changed.
"The LNP will facilitate private sector investment in new electricity generation in Queensland, including coal-fired power stations by streamlining the approval process," Mr Last said.
"Fast-tracked approvals will be considered to guarantee future baseload generation."
While acknowledging that Queensland-owned electricity generators already controlled more than half of the state's generation capacity, he said "new generators should be funded, built, owned and operated by bodies other than the state government to boost competition and lower prices".
"At a time when more than 200,000 Queenslanders are out of work, we need to encourage more private sector investment in infrastructure and that's what an LNP government would do," he said.
Mr Last said the Federal LNP Government was supporting new electricity generation projects that would drive down power prices, increase reliability and support a stronger economy.
"These projects need to stack up and make commercial sense to get private sector investment and necessary state government approvals," he said.
"We are eagerly awaiting the findings of the feasibility study into Shine Energy's proposal to build a coal-fired power station at Collinsville."
Rather than contributing funds to the construction of the power station, Mr Last said his party was focused on funding the construction of its ambitious $15 billion New Bradfield Scheme.
Regarded as the the single biggest renewable energy project in Queensland's history, the scheme would provide water security while generating 2,000 megawatts of hydro-electricity.
"This investment will significantly add to the baseload generation capacity and reduce electricity prices," he said.
The LNP's candidate for Rockhampton Tony Hopkins said his party was serious about increasing baseload power in Queensland.
"We will take a pragmatic approach that encourages private investment, including in coal-fired power stations," Mr Hopkins said.
"Deb Frecklington and the LNP's plan to build the New Bradfield Scheme will add 2,000 megawatts of electricity into Queensland's baseload generation."
Campaigning in the seat of Keppel, LNP candidate Adrian de Groot said the LNP had the right approach towards realising the coal fired power station by streamlining approvals processes to facilitate private sector investment.
He supported the LNP's plan to concentrate government spending towards the Bradfield Plan, which would generate on-demand electricity for 800,000 homes.
Federal MPs address funding the HELE coal-fired power station
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said energy users in north and central Queensland needed reliable, affordable supply to help them prosper, grow and, importantly, employ more Australians.
"That means ensuring a reliable, balanced mix of generation in the system, which for many years to come will include coal, gas and a growing share of renewables," Ms Landry said.
"System strength is a real concern in the region, which is why part of our plan includes a commitment to support feasibility studies for new reliable generation - like the proposed Collinsville HELE plant - to improve the strength of the grid and put downward pressure on prices.
"The Liberal National Government has been clear - our commitment is to support a feasibility study on the Collinsville project. We have made a commitment and we are honouring that commitment.
Ms Landry said her state colleagues were just as committed as she was to CQ's resources industry.
Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd was adamant Queensland needed more power, not less.
"My stance on coal and HELE coal fire power stations is well known, and I'm not in the business of shutting them down," Mr O'Dowd said.
"I've always been a big supporter of coal and HELE coal fired power stations for the jobs it provides and the low cost energy it produces."
"Coal is Australia's second biggest export and is driving a multi-billion dollar economy."
Mr O'Dowd believed that our energy mix should include coal, nuclear, gas and renewables.
"The Federal Government will underwrite any new energy players, that come in to the market, that can provide consumers with affordable and reliable baseline power."
A strong advocate for the construction of a new HELE coal-fired power station, CQ-based Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said the policies of the state LNP were a matter for them.
"We are committed to investing in all types of power including coal," Senator Canavan said.
"The study the Federal Government is funding into the Collinsville power station is progressing well."
Queensland Government regards new HELE coal fired power station as unnecessary
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham has previously maintained that Queensland was already well placed for energy generation and didn't need another coal-fired power station - especially one funded by taxpayers.
"Queensland currently has the youngest and most-efficient fleet of coal-fired power stations in the country," Dr Lynham said.
"We have almost 5500MW of renewable energy capacity now, and more on the way.
"Since December 2016, almost $5 billion has been invested in almost 2500MW of new renewable generation, creating more than 4500 jobs."
He said Queensland's surplus energy was already being exported to other states.
"I don't know why we need a coal fired power station in Collinsville when so much power is being produced in North Queensland," he said during a visit to Rockhampton last month.
"Power used to go from south to north, now it comes from north to south.
"1700MW of power heading south because it's renewable energy, the cheapest form of energy that we can have."
Dr Lynham described the Federal Government's HELE coal-fired power station plan as being in "a world of pain".
"If you read the different ownership structures of who's in charge, you don't know who is in charge of the proposal," he said.