Council meets with residents to discuss Daintree power


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Douglas Shire’s Mayor Julia Leu and three of the four councillors, Michael Kerr, Abigail Noli and Roy Zammataro, met with separate deputations yesterday to discuss power north of the Daintree.

The two groups, who met separately, were the recently formed Daintree Coast Environment Network (DCEN) and the Daintree Renewable Energy Inc.

The DCEN used the meeting to inform councillors of their new group and its stand regarding power in the Daintree. DCEN spokesperson Connie Kerr was accompanied by former long-time shire mayor Mike Berwick, who is also a member of the Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG). 

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The DCEN believes there will be better power and conservation outcomes for everyone on the Daintree Coast if everyone can work together.

The DCEN has said it is therefore supportive of investigations into the feasibility of improved electricity options for residents and business, provided it looked at all options; improved the renewable proportion; does not lead to environmental damage directly or indirectly and it consults widely and comprehensively.

The Daintree Renewable Energy Inc. used the meeting to inform council of its renewable energy micro grid proposal – funded by the Federal Government – and to ask council to endorse the proposal with a letter of support.  

Councillor Michael Kerr said he appreciated them (the deputations) taking the time to come to Council and putting across their positions on this matter.

“I personally believe that the Federal Government’s commitment to assist in giving a full renewable and environmentally friendly power solution to the people in the Daintree is a good thing and I fully support the initiative to investigate this opportunity.”

In the meeting, Russell O’Doherty, president of the Daintree Renewable Energy Inc. laid out his arguments for using a totally renewable energy micro grid:

  • It will get rid of all the polluting generators out of the Daintree.
  • It will stop tens of thousands of tons of pollution pumped directly into the Daintree rainforest every year.
  • It will make the Daintree a truly 100% Eco Tourist destination – not the farce and pretend eco destination that it currently is – and will create an unbelievable opportunity for the council and peek tourism bodies to be able to market the Daintree as a true Eco tourism destination.
  • It will give the community affordable reliable reticulated power.
  • And be totally green power based on cutting edge Hydrogen technology and be reticulated underground which will fully protect the environment.

For O’Doherty, his executive and Richard Schoenemann from Volt Advisory Service, the meeting did not produce the outcome they were hoping for.

“At the meeting, Mayor Julia Leu proved to us that she had little or no interest in the content of our presentation by indicating that she thought that we would be piping hydrogen along the road way to people’s properties.

“However, the CEO and councillors showed interest in the merits of our presentation and we hope that they will provide a letter of support from council,” said O’Doherty.

O’Doherty also revealed that three weeks ago his executive and Schoenemann had a SKYPE link up with the Mayor and CEO.

“We fully briefed them on how the system operates and what benefits this would bring to the shire using this technology.

“A few days later the mayor made a statement in the media saying the she wanted to look at other options that were green and used renewables; which would be subsidised by the State Government.

“This is option five in the Powering the Daintree Report, released 12 months ago by Schoenemann, which has no merit,” he said.

O’Doherty said Option five is a do-nothing option.

“Some members that are anti power, want the government to pay for their solar systems, new panels, new batteries, new inverters and a new backup generator which is used regularly this time of the year.

“This does absolutely nothing to help the businesses who run generators 24/7; it does nothing to protect the environment at all.

“This option has been pursued over the years with both State Labor and LNP Governments and the response has been a resounding rejection of the proposal.

“Even in the past 12 months working through the proposal with ARENA and the State Government this option was totally rejected by the State.”

O’Doherty is still hoping to receive a letter of support which will be presented to the Prime Minister and Treasury and is waiting on a funding announcement by Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister.

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