LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The Arid Lands Environment Centre is greatly disappointed by the recently announced $75m “investment” in new gas fired generators at Owen Springs to secure future energy supply in Alice Springs.
At a time when global leaders have recently made a landmark deal to lower global carbon emissions, the Northern Territory Government is locking Alice residents into a previous era of dirty fossil fuel energy supplies.
The announced investment in new gas fired generators is not the right direction for the future energy supply of Alice Springs which is well placed to lead the rest of Australia in transitioning to solar power and renewable energy supplies. There is strong support from community members to see this happen.
We have been contacted by a number of local residents who have expressed their disappointment in this decision, and this sentiment has been reflected in local news and social media platforms since the announcement.
The $75m would be much better distributed between investment in upgrading the network to support hybrid battery and solar energy systems rather than locking Alice Springs for generations to Territory Generation, which essentially would hold a monopoly over power supply and would have no incentives for developing clean energy supplies.
ALEC is highly engaged on the issue of ensuring a sustainable energy supply for Alice Springs. We were a driving force behind the bid for and implementation of the highly successful Alice Solar City project. More recently ALEC participated in the Energy Futures Parliamentary Committee proceedings and has made numerous policy submissions related to energy and electricity supply in Alice Springs.
ALEC believes a good investment of $75m into the Alice Springs electricity supply would look more like:–
• $20m investment into the grid. Support competition for supply by medium and large-scale electricity providers. Enable distributed supply of solar energy and battery storage.
• $5m to reduce inefficiencies in the system and support energy efficiency programs.
• $50m to support co-investment by local Alice Springs residents and businesses in renewable energy and battery storage. $5000 each for 10000 roof tops, generating $50m in co-investment and growing a local solar and battery storage industry.
Not only would this increase the supply of electricity to Alice Springs but it would also improve the stability of the grid. Rather than setting a date for the retirement of the Ron Goodin Power Station, it could be used to support the transition of Alice Springs to being a solar powered town with gas generators as back up.
We urge the Treasurer and the Chief Minister to support the co-investment in the future solar energy supply for Alice Springs. We urge them to review the tender process.
The opportunity to support co-investment by local residents and businesses while upgrading the grid to do so is compelling, and is something that ALEC and local community members will be lobbying for in coming months.
Jimmy Cocking (pictured)
Director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR