Govt. shopping local? Do as I say, not as I do.


p2311-CAT-Projects-1By ERWIN CHLANDA
Territory Generation, which is wholly owned by the NT Government, did not seek advice prior to committing to the $75m new power station from a prize-winning Alice-based firm which has renewable energy contracts throughout the Pacific region.
The new power station will entirely rely on fossil fuels.
Bruce Walker, the chairman of CAT Projects Pty Ltd, when asked for a comment by the Alice Springs News Online, said that although CAT Projects has experience in gas power generation, it is primarily focused on hybrid power systems design and engineering and could have given its views about a suitable mix of renewable and non renewable fuel plants, had that been of interest to Territory Generation.
“We would have suggested a hybrid solution. This would have been based entirely on engineering considerations.”
Asked whether Territory Generation had been in touch in relation to the new power station Dr Walker said: “No.”
As reported in the News it was known for at least 10 years that the Ron Goodin power station near the Golf Course Estate was due for replacement, and the $75m project was live since at least August last year.
Yet the only public announcement about the new plant was a report based on leaked information, in the News on February 2 this year, three days before Chief Minister Adam Giles announced it with great fanfare.
CAT Projects has a staff of 13 including nine engineers and has its roots in the long established Centre For Appropriate Technology, a local Aboriginal organisation.
CAT Projects won the Sir William Hudson Award for Australian Engineering Excellence in 2011, the nation’s top award in that field.
The firm had key roles in the Alice Solar Cities project, the Desert Knowledge solar display and the Uterne solar power station.
It designed the array of photo voltaic panels for the Hilton hotel building in Alice Springs (pictured above) – the largest roof-mounted facility in the southern hemisphere at the time.
CAT Projects is an advisor to the Asian Development Bank and has carried out work in Nepal, Kenya, the Philippines and the Cook Islands (for the NZ and Cook Islands governments) and it designed and managed the installation of the energy system of the University of NSW Tyree Building.
The current public debate in the News about the $75m project (66 reader comments so far) raises issues around the failure to make the most of our abundance of sunshine, and position the town as a leader in the field, by using its renewable energy.


  1. Current government has everything tied up in gas, investing in renewables contradicts their vision.
    For people that pride themselves on decisions based on strong economic growth, this is beyond ridiculous!
    If this ludicrous plan comes to fruition we will see the price of power sky rocket and those that can afford to will go off the grid and or start trading power amongst themselves.

  2. To the editor: Your continued interest in this ridiculous move to invest $75 million in fossil fuels is appreciated.
    I’m still interested to hear how all this came about. Was there really a 9 month tender? And was it an open tender, or a handout to a favoured company?
    Given that Alice Springs is one of the sunniest places on earth and that we have local skills and knowledge to address our power supply needs, the government’s decision on this is shameful.
    Do we want to be a Solar City of the future, or a Fossil Fool backwater?

  3. That’s probably not the best photo to promote CAT Projects. Every single solar panel is on the shady side of the roof!

  4. The solar project in the picture is the DoubleTree and what a great and successful project it was (is).
    I can’t keep count of the visitors who have stayed at this great venue and thoroughly appreciated the energy tracking information provider in the foyer and the decision by DoubleTree to support efforts to grow Alice Springs’ reputation as a world class solar city.
    Also, well said Marli Banks!


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