New hope in fight for rainforest power


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Chief Executive of Queensland Resources Council Ian Macfarlane. IMAGE: Alex Ellinghausen.
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AS the struggle for power continues in the Daintree region, the Daintree Rainforest Power Committee was today presented with another option when Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane called on the federal government to invest in a high-technology power station for North Queensland.

Speaking in Townsville, Macfarlane said a chunk of the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund could be used for a modern high efficiency, low emission (HELE) power plant.

And although it is unknown at this stage – if the business case is made – whether the Daintree would benefit, Russell O’Doherty from the Daintree Rainforest Power Committee said Macfarlane’s comments are important in their fight for power.

“We have a number of options available to us as we continue the battle to get power in our area. We have been extremely active, but accept this is going to take time. We are therefore encouraged by what Macfarlane said.”

O’Doherty said there has been discussion regarding a coal-fired power station in the Rockhampton area which would be advantageous to the Daintree, meaning possible cheaper transmission costs.

“We also have Warren Entsch’s (Federal member for Leichhardt) commitment to extend the grid and we are trying to set up a meeting with him and fellow MP Josh Frydenberg to see if we can take this matter any further.

“And the Australian Renewable Energy Network (ARENA) will, over the next few weeks, be providing us with two options for consideration,” said O’Doherty.

He added that if a US power company and Ergon could reach agreement, they would be able to benefit from a 23c/kw deal. The Daintree Rainforest Power Committee has for some time been working on this possibility.

Macfarlane said – regardless of what the foreign funded green activists chant – the reality is that coal-fired electricity and renewables will be part of the future for decades to come.

“Let’s have technology that generates that electricity with low emissions and at the same time supports the further use of renewables,” he said.

Macfarlane said if this region is to develop to its full potential and be part of the powerhouse of northern Australia, it needs to see its own stable power generation here in Townsville which does include wind and solar farms, but it also requires coal-fired power supply.

“I urge the businesses in Townsville to put forward a business case to Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund committee for the initial capital for the project and to develop this technology in Australia.

“Growing the economy and attracting industry and jobs is a great way to make sure North Queensland grows,” he said.

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