November 20, 2017
Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has defended a think tank report which warned on Monday that Tarong Power Station could close as soon as 2018-19.
The analysis, published in the Courier-Mail newspaper, is based on data released recently by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
Mrs Frecklington told southburnett.com.au the report, prepared for the Australian Institute for Progress (AIP), validated what the LNP had been saying “from the first day Annastacia Palaszczuk said we would have a 50 per cent renewable energy target in Queensland”.
The report says modelling of the AEMO data shows that to achieve a 50 per cent power generation mix by 2030:
The report said closing down the Tarong and Stanwell power stations, as well as three of Gladstone’s six generation units, would cause job losses in Kingaroy, Rockhampton and Gladstone – all areas with unemployment rates already above the State average.
And it claimed “uncontrollable State-wide blackouts” would become likely for up to 3 per cent of the year – equivalent to 11 days a year – presumably over the State’s hottest days.
Mrs Frecklington said the report was seriously bad news for Tarong Power Station and the South Burnett community but an LNP Government would never close Tarong.
“This report confirms what we have suspected for a while now, Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target would result in the closure of Queensland’s coal-fired power stations from next year,” she said.
“The South Burnett relies on Stanwell’s Tarong Power Station and Meandu Mine. What we are seeing here is Annastacia Palaszczuk putting Greens preferences ahead of our workers and our community.”
The AIP report was prepared by Jonathan Pavetto, a former spokesman for a lobby group, the Alliance of Electricity Consumers, and a former LNP candidate for the Federal seat of Kennedy.
Mrs Frecklington defended Mr Pavetto’s LNP connection saying it “doesn’t prevent him from talking about the facts”.
“He has the connection to the LNP but he is just stating the facts,” she said.
And she said the AIP report was not the first to warn about the closure of coal-fired power stations.
She said from a Labor Government perspective, Tarong Power Station would be the easiest to close first as both Gladstone and Rockhampton electorates were held by the ALP.
“Under an LNP government we will never shut Tarong. I can absolutely guarantee it,” she said.
She said the State Government had spent a huge amount of money on Tarong and Tarong North power stations.
“We know the life of the station can be extended to 2030. Tarong really is the lifeblood of our town.”
Mr Pavetto told ABC Radio on Monday morning that people did not have to take his word about the power station closures, they should simply take a look at AEMO modelling.
He said their modelling showed the first one off the rank would be Tarong, in 2018-19.
“It you are going to be having a 50 per cent renewable capacity – which may be entirely technically possible – you have to displace some of that coal generation from somewhere and the AEMO has identified that the capacity that has to be withdrawn will be coming from Tarong, Stanwell and half of Gladstone,” Mr Pavetto said.
The Electrical Trades Union has described the report as “hysterical” by “partisan climate change skeptics” at a “right-wing think tank” created by former Liberal Party vice-president Graham Young.
ETU Assistant State Secretary Keith McKenzie said the union was confident no power stations would close.
“Clearly this is an orchestrated, partisan attack from the think tank and the LNP’s friends at the Courier Mail,” he said.
Energy Minister Mark Bailey told ABC Radio 612 on Monday that Tarong would “absolutely not” be closing in 2018-19.
He said the AIP report was “absolute nonsense” crafted by a person who was “intimately involved in the (Campbell Newman) privatisation program as a consultant”.
“We have the youngest, most efficient coal-fired power station fleet in the country and we have no plans to close any of them,” he said.
“It’s just nonsense from the LNP.”