POWER DEBATE: A study will determine whether to build a new $1b Collinsville Power Station. Photo: Cameron Laird
POWER DEBATE: A study will determine whether to build a new $1b Collinsville Power Station. Photo: Cameron Laird

State MPs locked in coal fired power battle

THE prospect of the Federal Government using taxpayers' money to underwrite the construction of a $2 billion coal-fired power station at Collinsville has divided Queensland's political parties.

Seeking to appease National Party MPs intent on building a coal-fired power station fuelled by locally dug coal, the Coalition ­Government pledged $4 million into a feasibility study for the Collinsville project last week.

The LNP and One Nation parties have voiced their support for the investigation into 1GW High Energy Low Emissions power plant proposal at Collinsville, 250km south of Townsville.

LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last praised the decision by the Coalition Government to support new electricity ­generation projects in north and central Queensland, saying it would drive down power prices, improve reliability and support a stronger economy.

Queensland LNP member for Burdekin Dale Last at Parliament House in Brisbane, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Queensland LNP member for Burdekin Dale Last at Parliament House in Brisbane, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

"That includes $4 million to support Shine Energy's feasibility study for a new HELE coal-fired power station at Collinsville, which I fully support," Mr Last said.

"These projects need to stack up and make commercial sense to get private sector investment and necessary state government approvals.

"We are happy to consider fast-tracking approvals to guarantee future baseload generation."

He said the LNP's plan for the New Bradfield Scheme would also deliver 2000MW of baseload power in North Queensland.

The Katter Party have hit out at the Coalition over their decision to fund the feasibility study into a Collinsville Power Station, saying they had "bowed to the pressure of rogue, leadership-driven National" and demanded they "stop using North Queensland as a political football".

While his party was supportive of the resource industry and coal-fired power, Mr Katter believed a 1GW power station was too big and didn't stack up financially.

Katter’s Australian Party Member for Kennedy Bob Katter in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, February, Thursday 13, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Katter’s Australian Party Member for Kennedy Bob Katter in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, February, Thursday 13, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

"I am all for a single unit, 200MW power station at Collinsville," Mr Katter said.

"There was a power station there previously, so half of it is already built.

"The basic infrastructure is there: pylons, housing, buildings and flooring.

"The construction costs would be negligible; it would create 100 jobs for the area.

He said a 200MW power station would be relatively cheap for North Queensland industry and the government should just go ahead and build it but "going to a power station five times the size is just ridiculous.

"If we build a major coal-fired power station, the size they are talking of, we are locked into $84 a megawatt hour - Finkle is right," Mr Katter said.

"North Queensland's businesses and industries would collapse.

"Alternatively, the people in southeast Queensland are getting their power at $28 a megawatt hour."

 

Mr Katter said the solution to North Queensland's power conundrum was simple.

"The region requires around 900MW of baseload electricity and 600MW of peak load," he said.

"Hells Gates will generate 620MW, existing sugar mills produce around 220MW and 640MW should be produced from The Tully Hydro Realignment project. 200MW will be generated at Collinsville.

"Mount Isa via Copper String can provide all necessary emergency power.

"Mount Isa has over 400MW of instant dispatch-able power.

"This means North Queensland will have moderate to very cheap power forever with low C02 emissions."

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham has repeatedly 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 minister Anthony Lynham at Parliament House in Brisbane, Thursday, February 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Jono Searle) NO ARCHIVING
Queensland minister Anthony Lynham at Parliament House in Brisbane, Thursday, February 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Jono Searle) NO ARCHIVING

"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.

"The Federal LNP Government should support more publicly owned power generation and transmission infrastructure so we can export even more power to support the national electricity market," he said.

"They should also support more gas infrastructure, so we can get more Queensland gas into pipelines to our manufacturers, to support jobs.

"More gas will help drive down prices for industry, and put downward pressure on electricity prices, as the chief scientist points out, increasingly using gas as a transitional fuel as we move to a renewable energy future."