By ERWIN CHLANDA
Territory Generation (TG) has made an unconvincing attempt to claim that there has been public consultation about what fuel would be used in the $75m Owen Springs power station.
TG was responding to a request for comment from the Alice Springs News Online about criticisms within local environmental circles that some of the money ought to be spent on generation using renewable fuel such as solar, instead of exclusively on non-renewable fossil fuel, namely gas.
TG says in the statement: “Power and Water Corporation submitted an application to the Development Consent Authority (DCA) for the Owen Springs Power Station (pictured) in 2007.
“The application was publicly exhibited and met all Northern Territory planning and environmental requirements (including the Planning Act).
“After a period of public exhibition, the then Minister (Planning and Lands) took into consideration public submissions and service authority comments and a Development Permit was granted.
“The Development Permit and the land on which Owen Springs Power Station is located was transferred to Territory Generation following separation from Power and Water Corporation on 1 July 2014.”
The News put to TG that the Development Consent Authority would have concerned itself merely with the use of the land when dealing with zoning issues at Brewer Estate.
The authority would have had no views nor requirements about whether the power station would be using fossil fuels or renewables.
TG presented no evidence that the type of fuel – fossil or renewable – had been raised in the DCA’s deliberations.
It is the type of fuel that is now the subject of a vigorous debate.
The News put to TG that if it had wanted to inform and consult the public about its intentions for fuel, it could have done so in a variety of methods. TG did not respond to that.
The TG statement said further: “Initial plans for the Owen Springs Power Station included provision for a total installed capacity of 130MW, and the retirement of Ron Goodin Power Station by 2019.
“TG’s current proposal for Owen Springs Power Station has been significantly scaled back from the initial proposal. Upon completion, the expanded Owen Springs Power Station will have a capacity of approximately 77 MW.
“Alice Springs has a very high penetration of rooftop and industrial solar power. As of 2015, the Energy Supply Association of Australia estimated that Alice Springs had a total of about 10.6 MW of solar PV capacity (more than 40% of the average annual demand in Alice Springs).
“As the generator of last resort in Alice Springs, TG has an obligation to provide reliable and efficient energy generation.
“TG is investigating the introduction of the latest renewable energy and energy storage technologies available.
“We are committed to working with Commonwealth agencies on opportunities to deliver renewable energy into our portfolio of generation assets, following the Commonwealth Government’s decision to keep two renewable energy agencies and establish a new $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
“We already work in partnership with independent power producers to support renewable energy initiatives. We have power purchase agreements in place underpinning the 4.1 MW Uterne solar power station in Alice Springs (Australia’s largest tracking solar station).
“Territory Generation is preparing for our renewable energy future. Technology in this space is rapidly changing, and Territory Generation is looking forward to evolving within this rapidly evolving industry.”
Fuel for $75m powerstation: When was public told?
By ERWIN CHLANDA